Puppies are athletes too! Inside the Puppy Bowl

While many of us spent Super Bowl Sunday watching the New England Patriots’ historic comeback against the Atlanta Falcons, 2.47 million Americans watched a sporting event with a significantly more uneven final score. I’m referring, of course, to Puppy Bowl XIII, which saw Team Fluff blowout Team Ruff 93-38. While Tom Brady and the Patriots celebrated with the Lombardi trophy, the underdog (pun kind of intended) Team Fluff raised the Lombarky trophy. Team Fluff was led by Rory, a freak athlete who scored three touchdowns in the first quarter alone. For this, Rory was deemed MVP (most valuable puppy).

Scoring in the Puppy Bowl is determined by how many times each team can move a number of toys spread around the field into an endzone. Each touchdown is worth seven points.

The Puppy Bowl is unique because all of the dog-athletes are also shelter animals who are up for adoption. The Puppy Bowl not only provides entertainment for audiences, it also helps the participating dogs connect with families who will raise them. The Puppy Bowl films in October and, by the time it airs in February, most of the dogs have been adopted.

One of these dogs is Jessie, who competed in the Puppy Bowl under the name Hope. A member of Team Fluff, Jessie is a Labrador/Hound mix from New York. While I tried to secure an interview with Jessie, I had to settle for talking with Eliana Langer ’17. Langer’s family took Jessie in after her appearance in the Puppy Bowl. “My sister volunteered at this shelter, it’s called Unleashed. It’s based in New York,” said Langer.

Unleashed is both a dog shelter and an after-school program. According to its website, Unleashed believes, “Through the vehicle of animal rights and welfare, adolescent girls have the unique opportunity to gain hands-on leadership skills.” Their feminist curriculum both empowers the girls and rescues puppies. Unleashed often travels to kill shelters in other states and brings puppies back to New York.

Langer’s sister, Gavriela, fell in love with the dogs that Unleashed rescued. “She volunteered with them and wanted to adopt a dog and she talked my parents into it and then they adopted her,” Langer said. “I came home for Thanksgiving and there was a dog!”

Jessie was only 19 weeks old when shooting for the Puppy Bowl took place. Originally, the Langers thought that she wouldn’t grow too much bigger. “They expected her to be really small. They wanted to get a small dog because we live in the city, but she’s like 50 pounds and she’s gonna keep growing. Surprise!” said Langer.

Now, Jessie is six months old and full of energy.” Langer’s father often rides a scooter and lets Jessie pull him around New York City. Their favorite place to play is Riverside Park on the Upper West Side in Manhattan. She can also do tricks. She can sit, stay and “do the thing where you make her sit and then she puts her paw in your hands, where it’s like she’s shaking your hand,” Langer said.

Unfortunately, much like some of her counterparts in human football, Jessie will be undergoing knee surgery soon. “She’s getting ACL surgery in a few weeks. From working out too hard,” Langer says, laughing. “Crazy sports injuries.”

We here at The Mac Weekly hope that Jessie has a quick recovery from her operation and wish her the best of luck in returning to top form.