Still bummed about your Bills not making it to this year’s big game? Try a double dose of cuteness, with a Capital Region twist, as an alternative. Animal Planet’s über-popular Puppy Bowl, which last year reined in 1.9 million viewers, will air this Super Bowl Sunday (February 7) at 2pm, concurrently on the cable network and the Discovery+ streaming platform. And you might recognize the 2021 canine gridiron: All the action was pre-recorded last fall at Glens Falls’ Cool Insuring Arena.
The Puppy Bowl, which has been airing opposite the Super Bowl since 2005, is usually filmed on a Manhattan soundstage in October, but this year, due to the pandemic, producers wanted a little more space and time to work their socially distanced magic, so they took their cameras (and puppies!) up to Glens Falls for a weeklong shoot, per USA Today. “We’re finally shooting in a real sporting venue, even though we are technically a fake sporting event,” longtime “ruffaree” Dan Schachner told the newspaper last month. “The scale of it is immense—it looks like a completely different show. It’s a supersized version of ‘Puppy Bowl,’ even though we have fewer dogs.”
This year’s format will mirror previous years’, with Team Fluff being pitted against Team Ruff in open “combat.” (Instead of an actual game, per se, the puppies “fight” over chew and tug toys on a designed-for-puppies football field, score “touchdowns” and get flags throw for a number of “penalties.”) In years past, about 100 puppies from a number of shelters took part in the festivities, with 100 percent of the “players” being adopted by the show’s end. This year’s format will feature about 70 puppies representing 22 shelters, with the same amount of dogs being adopted by forever families. “We had to restrict ourselves to shelters within driving distance,” Erin Wanner, Animal Planet’s senior VP of production, told USA Today. “We also needed to keep the number of puppies lower because all the puppies come with shelter reps, and we were trying to keep the number of overall human beings down as much as possible.”
This year’s Puppy Bowl will also be an hour longer than last year’s, with three solid hours of enjoyable action to contend with (filming took about a week in comparison to one or two days in non-pandemic years). The show will be hosted by the poster children for “opposites attract” besties, Martha Stewart and rap legend Snoop Dogg, and we’re hearing that the afternoon’s action might even feature a few feline friends as well.