On August 16, 2023, a special screening for Universal Pictures’ stray dogs comedy “Strays” (released in theaters on August 18, 2023) was held at Universal CityWalk in Universal City, California. Attendees included the dog stars of the movie: Sophie, a Border Terrier, who plays Reggie in the movie; Bennie, a Boston Terrier, who portrays Bug in the movie; Elsa, an Australian Shepherd, who protrays Maggie in the movie; and Dalin, a Great Dane who portrays Hunter in the movie. (Culture Mix’s review of “Strays” can be found here.) Here are photos from the event.
Directed by Sadhvi Siddhali Shree and Sadhvi Anubhuti
Some language in Spanish with subtitles
Culture Representation: Taking place in the Houston area, the documentary film “For the Animals” features a group of predominantly white people (with some Latin people and African Americans) who are involved in some way in giving animal care to stray domesticated animals, particularly dogs.
Culture Clash: Animal rescuers face an uphill battle against limited resources and limited shelter space for stray animals, as well as pet owners’ resistance to spaying and neutering animals to reduce overpopulation.
Culture Audience: “For the Animals” will appeal mainly to people who like dogs and are interested in behind-the-scenes stories of rescuing stray dogs.
“For the Animals” is an educational and inspirational documentary about rescue efforts for stray dogs. The location is in Houston, but the lessons learned can apply to any area. The twin sisters who star in the movie are appealing and memorable advocates. Although the movie’s title implies that other animals will be prominently featured in this documentary, make no mistake: This documentary is all about rescuing dogs. And that’s okay, but the documentary’s title could have been more specific to the fact that this is a dog-oriented film.
Directed by Sadhvi Siddhali Shree and Sadhvi Anubhuti, “For the Animals” (which is Anubhuti’s feature-film directorial debut) chronicles the rescue work of identical twins Tama Lundquist and Tena Lundquist Faust, the co-founders and co-presidents of the non-profit group Houston PetSet, which was founded in 2004. An unsourced caption shown in the beginning of the documentary says, “It’s estimated that over a million stray animals are roaming the streets of Houston.” There’s no way to verify that statistic, especially if you consider “stray animals” can be rodents, insects and birds, not just dogs and cats.
Whatever the real number is for stray animals in Houston, “For the Animals” shows that there’s an alarming number of stray dogs in the Houston area. Lundquist and Lundquist Faust are two of the people who are doing positive things about this overpopulation problem. Houston PetSet is one of the animal rescue groups that is aimed at giving a better life for these animals by providing the money and resources for food, medical care (including spay/neuter services), foster care and eventual adoption, if the animals are able to be placed safely in a home. Lundquist and Lundquist Faust personally go out on the streets of Houston to be part of these rescue efforts, as shown in several scenes in the movie.
The documentary mentions more than once what experienced animal rescuers and their advocates already know: It’s not enough to take stray animals off of the streets and find them good homes. There has to be enough low-cost or free spay and neuter resources available in the area, in order to reduce overpopulation of stray dogs and cats. Many of these stray animals have a parent that is not a stray, but the pet owners often can’t or won’t get these pets spayed and neutered. It’s mentioned that in certain cultures, it’s considered taboo or unnecessary to spay and neuter dogs and cats, with neutering especially disapproved of by people who think male animals should never be sterilized.
All of the animal rescuers interviewed in the documentary say that the stray animal overpopulation in Houston is getting worse. Government-run animal shelters are overwhelmed by not having enough space for stray animals, so these government-run shelters almost always use euthanasia on animals that don’t get adopted in a limited period of time, in order to make room for new animals who arrive at the shelters. It’s usually up to privately funded groups to have “no kill” animal shelters.
Who are these twin sisters who are a strikingly passionate duo of animal rescuers? “For the Animals” doesn’t go too deep into their backgrounds, but Lundquist and Lundquist Faust both say in separate interviews that they wanted to be animal rescuers because they developed a love of animals from a very early age. Lundquist is the grittier sister who’s more likely to be hands-on with dirty and sick stray dogs that they find on the streets. Lundquist Faust is the more glamorous sister who’s more likely to come up with business ideas.
Both sisters seem to be fairly affluent (based on what their homes look like in the documentary), and they’re capable of hosting million-dollar fundraisers with Houston’s high-society people, but the twins are not super-rich themselves. Susan Boggio, a philanthropist/animal rescuer/PetSet benefactor, is interviewed in the documentary. Not surprisingly, Boggio has nothing but good things to say about Houston PetSet.
Each sister has multiple dogs and tell the stories about rescuing at least one of their dogs. Lundquist talks about adopting her dog Sunny after finding him as a stray all by himself in Houston’s Sunnyside neighborhood, on a night of freezing rain. She was so upset by thinking about him being along in the cold rain, she went back the next day to find him and keep him for herself. Lundquist Faust shares her story about adopting her dog Benjamin, who was also a stray. Benjamin was severely injured with broken bones and gunshot wounds, but “I was the only person he trusted,” says Lundquist Faust.
Lundquist says in a documentary interview that the twins’ parents were strict Scandinavians who didn’t show affection easily, which is why she and her sister were drawn to getting affection from animals when the twins were children. They had to beg their parents to get a pet dog and were heartbroken when their parents made them give away a family dog that the parents thought was too difficult. Lundquist says that she has a particular interest in rescuing stray animals because they remind her of “my own pain as a child, feeling lonely, feeling isolated, feeling not good enough.”
Lundquist Faust echoes those feelings and says of the stray animals that she and her sister rescue: “We have to assume that they’re traumatized, and treat them as such.” Lundquist Faust says that her husband Tyson Faust (who appears briefly in the documentary) encouraged her to become a full-time animal rescuer, which led to the formation of Houston PetSet. Lundquist Faust says she was deeply affected and disturbed by going to Monterrey, Mexico, and seeing how stray dogs there are often killed by electrocution.
The beginning of “For the Animals” shows the twins going to a run-down, garbage-littered area of Houston nicknamed The Corridor, which is a “dumping ground” for living and dead dogs. The twins are shown interacting with a street feeder (someone who feeds stray animals) named Sonya Franklin, who is a dog owner herself. Street feeders (who are usually women) almost always do these activities with no financial compensation, and they use their own money to pay for all of the expenses involved in feeding stray animals.
Animal rescue groups such as Houston PetSet rely on street feeders to keep them informed about specific animals that are in most need of rescuing and to give alerts about emergency situations. “For the Animals” shows Lundquist Faust and Lundquist working with Franklin to rescue two starving male dogs in The Corridor: a black and white older Labrador retriever mix that they name Walter and a brown and white pit bull mix (with injuries indicating that he was used in dog fighting) that they name Ozzy. “For the Animals” shows what ends up happening to Walter and Ozzy.
Jane Anne Wesson is another Houston street feeder who is shown working with Houston PetSet. In the documentary, Wesson has nothing but praise for Houston PetSet but is very open about her criticism of Houston’s government-run BARC Animal Shelter & Adoptions, which does euthanasia on animals. Wesson says she would never want a stray animal to go to BARC, because it would mean almost certain death for that animal. Wesson also comments that stray animals are better off on the streets where they’ll “at least have a fighting chance” to survive, rather than being sent to BARC.
BARC director Greg Damianoff is somewhat depicted as a villain in “For the Animals,” which strategically shows archival news interview footage of him whenever there’s mention of people who run animal shelters but who don’t really care about the animals. In the interviews, Damianoff comes across as defensive and cocky. In one archival news interview, he denies accusations that he doesn’t care about animals and says: “Am I going to make everyone happy? I don’t think so.”
However, there’s no mention in “For the Animals” if this documentary’s filmmakers made any efforts to contact Damianoff for an interview or comment for this documentary. Likewise, no one else who works at BARC is interviewed in the documentary, although Fort Bend County Animal Services director Rene Vasquez is interviewed to give the perspective of someone who runs an animal shelter that uses euthanasia as a last resort. The documentary has people giving criticism of BARC but no one representing BARC to get BARC’s side of the story. It’s one of the flaws in the documentary, which toward the end somewhat looks like a promotional video for Houston PetSet.
However, “For the Animals” does a very good job of pointing out that if a community has a major problem with an overpopulation of stray animals, it’s an indication of larger problems in the community. Lundquist says in a documentary interview: “I keep going back to [the belief that] if these animals are suffering in these places, the people are too. What can we do for all of them? How do we alleviate the suffering? It doesn’t seem right to me. It seems like we can help all of them.”
One of the best parts of “For the Animals” is in how it shows the power of animal rescue groups working together, instead of competing against each other. The documentary includes footage of the twins in meetings with Houston PetSet employees. In one of these meetings, it’s decided that Houston PetSet will form a strategic alliance with another Houston-based animal rescue group called Emancipet, which has stronger outreach to Spanish-speaking neighborhoods than Houston PetSet does.
Emancipet vice president Angelita Sampaio says in a documentary interview: “Houston is very international … People move from another location where it’s normal for animals to roam.” Sampaio believes that part of solving the stray overpopulation problem is in helping people rethink some of their harmful beliefs that they might have been raised with about animals and animal care. For example, some cultures believe that taking pet animals for a veterinary checkup is unnecessary, even if a pet owner can afford to do it.
This rethinking about giving better animal care includes spreading the word about how animals that are not being raised for breeding can benefit from being spayed and neutered by having better health and longer lives. However, one of the obstacles is that even when people are offered free spaying and free neutering for their pets, many pet owners still resist the idea for cultural reasons. Sampaio says that when it comes to getting pet owners to give better animal care, she doesn’t like to use the word “educating,” because it sounds condescending. She likes to use the term “information sharing.”
“For the Animals” shows how Houston PetSet and Emancipet joined forces to get the word out in a predominantly Spanish-speaking neighborhood about a free spay/neuter event hosted by Houston PetSet. Emancipet community outreach worker Stephanie Plata and community member Ernestina Zamarripa are shown being crucial allies in this outreach alliance. The event is said to be a success, although “For the Animals” doesn’t actually show this spay/neuter event, for reasons not explained in the documentary.
Part of running a successful animal rescue group is inevitable interaction with government officials. The twins are shown meeting with two of them: Greg Travis (a former member of the Houston City Council) and John Whitmire, a Texas state senator for District 15. At the time “For the Animals” was released, Whitmire was a candidate to be Houston’s mayor, with the outcome to be decided in a November 2023 general election.
Travis is one of the people in “For the Animals,” who speaks out against BARC, by sharing his own personal experience of adopting his dog Chloe from BARC. He says that he adopted her in part because BARC told him that Chloe was about to be euthanized for heartworm problems that BARC did not have the funds to treat. However, after adopting Chloe, Travis said medical tests proved that she did not have heartworm. Travis believes that BARC was using heartworm as a false reason to euthanize Chloe.
Travis also says in the documentary that Whitmire is one of the few Houston politicians who would actually work with rescue groups to do something about the stray overpopulation problem. Travis also makes it known that if Whitmire would be elected mayor of Houston, then Travis would want to be appointed the new director of BARC. Although Travis appears to be helpful in recommending Whitmire to Houston PetSet and seems to have good intentions, it appears that Travis has his own political agenda in doing so.
As for Whitmire, he claims to be a staunch supporter of animal rescue groups, but he gives a lot of canned politician talk in this documentary footage, such as saying, “You can’t fix the problem until you admit that you have one.” It would’ve been better if someone had asked him in the documentary what his specific plans were for improving animal care in Houston, instead of just letting Whitmire make vague statements. Other candidates in the 2023 Houston mayoral election are not interviewed in the documentary.
“For the Animals” isn’t a completely “feel good” documentary where everyone gets a happy ending. There are heartbreaking stories of animal abuse and neglect that result in death. The documentary also mentions the real-life dangers of feral and hungry stray dogs that can and have killed people. It’s probably why stray dogs, rather than stray cats, get more of the focus when there’s talk about stray domesticated animals being a public health problem.
The twins candidly talk about the emotional and physical toll that can happen from the stress of being an animal rescuer. They both say that this type of work takes a lot of time away from their loved ones. The twins worry about the damage that it does to their relationships and their physical well-being. That doesn’t mean that the twins are giving up anytime soon, but they know there will come a time in their lives when they have to slow down.
Lundquist’s adult son Cole Owen, who is briefly seen in the documentary, says that his mother’s life revolves around animal rescuing. Later, in the documentary, Lundquist breaks down and cries when she thinks about how she was preoccupied with a Houston PetSet fundraiser during a summer that she did not know would be the last summer she would spend with her father, who died in a car accident that December. She expresses regret that she didn’t spend more time with her father that summer.
Lundquist admits that when it comes to the problem of stray animal overpopulation, “I get so fucking mad at the people who don’t do anything, because if everybody could do a little bit, we could fix it.” Franklin makes a comment that is the biggest takeaway from the documentary and which sums up what motivates many animal rescuers/caregivers to get involved in saving helpless animals: “Everybody’s looking for someone else to do it, but we have to be the change we want to see.”
RouTTe One Productions released “For the Animals” in select U.S. cinemas, on digital and VOD on July 28, 2023.
With catastrophic numbers of stray dogs roaming the streets of Houston TX, twin activists and philanthropists Tena Lundquist Faust and Tama Lundquist lead the charge and take matters into their own hands to save the animals they love. As more and more strays plague the city causing a public health crisis and attacking its residents, the sisters take to the streets for a hands-on approach.
There are too many citizens not caring for their pets and this problem has gone unchecked for decades, resulting in the worst animal crisis the city and county have seen. Through community outreach, direct work with local shelters and stray dog “feeders,” the sisters rescue strays right off the street, run weekly programs to provide free spay and neuter services to the community and work with politicians to take on the dark practices of Houston’s largest shelters that euthanize due to overcrowding. This was all exacerbated by COVID and the new policy of “managing the animal intake/limiting animal intake” in the shelters. As Tena and Tama seek to create a better life for the animals they love, they fight to prove that it takes just one person caring to make a difference.
Although For The Animals is set in Houston, it reflects the same issues cities across the U.S. face where approximately 6.3 million companion animals enter shelters yearly, according to the ASPCA. The film highlights both the grassroots efforts and the multiple animal welfare organizations struggling with the complex nature of solving this overwhelming issue where lack of resources and local bureaucracy each play a role.
Sadhvi Siddhali Shree and Sadhvi Anubhuti co-directed and co-produced the film with the support of human and animal rights activist Alyssa Milano as an Executive Producer.
Culture Representation: Taking place in China, the dramatic film “Hachiko” (based on a true story) features an all-Asian cast of characters representing the working-class and middle-class.
Culture Clash: A college professor convinces his wife to let their family keep a stray Akita puppy that he found, and the puppy grows up to be a very loyal companion, even after tragedy strikes the family.
Culture Audience: “Hachiko” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in watching heartwarming stories (with some tearjerking moments) about family pets.
“Hachiko” is a worthy remake of the original film of the same name. This drama about a loyal family dog has some dull moments, but the movie has good performances. The tone is sentimental without overloading on schmaltz. Because the movie is based on a true story, many people might already know how this story is going to end. That doesn’t make watching the movie any less emotionally poignant.
Directed by Xu Ang, “Hachiko” makes some changes to the real story, as well as to previous movie versions of this true story. Xu co-wrote the “Hachiko” screenplay with Zhang Hansi, Li Liangwen and Li Lin. The movie is based on a true story of a male Akita dog named Hachikō, who lived in Japan, from November 1923 to March 1935. Hachikō showed unusual loyalty to his closest companion: a Tokyo-based college professor named Hidesaburō Ueno, who adopted Hachikō from a farm when Hachikō was a puppy.
This story has been made into several movies, beginning with the 1925 Japanese film “Hachikō.” The most famous and most commercially successful movie about this story is the 1987 drama “Hachikō Monogatari,” which was Japan’s biggest hit film of the year. An American movie version of the story, titled “Hachi: A Dog’s Story,” starring Richard Gere, was released in 2009.
The 2023 “Hachiko” movie is the Chinese version of the story. The movie takes place over a 15-year period. The dog is still an Akita, but the entire movie takes place in early 21st century China, not in the 1920s or 1930s.
The name of the dog in “Hachiko” is actually not Hachiko but is BaTong. That’s because in real life, Hachiko (which means “eighth prince” in Japanese) was the eighth puppy born in his litter. In the Chinese “Hachiko” movie, the dog is not adopted from a farm but is found as a stray puppy in a rural area. The professor who finds the dog and keeps him has no idea what the background information is for this puppy.
In the beginning of “Hachiko,” Chen Jingxiu (played by Feng Xioagang) is a mild-mannered professor who is living a comfortable but dull and stagnant life. The main disruption to his peace is when his cranky homemaker wife Li Jiazhen (played by Joan Chen) nags Jingxiu about the fact that he could be making more money if he had the talent and ambition to become a tenured professor. Jingxiu has been an associate professor for years without getting a job promotion.
Jingxiu and Jiazhen have two children—a son (played by Yang Bo) and a daughter (played by Eponine Huang)—who are teenagers at the beginning of the story and are in their 30s by the end of the story. Jiazhen spends a lot of time play mah jong with her female friends. And because Jiazhen gets irritated easily, she often says, “So annoying,” when she doesn’t like something.
The movie’s opening scene shows Jiazhen and her two children going back to visit the house that they lived in for years before moving away, for a reason explained later in the movie. The house is now abandoned and in a state of disrepair. This visit leads to Jiazhen to reminice about the years that she and her family lived there, beginning 15 years earlier. Most of the “Hachiko” is a flashback to those years.
During this flashback part of the movie, it shows early on how BaTong came into Jingxiu’s life. He and six or seven colleagues are riding on a private bus together, because they’re attending an event. The bus is going though a rural area in Yunyang County, China, when it gets stuck in the mud.
The passengers disembark from the bus to help the driver get the bus un-stuck. When all of a sudden, they see a 3-month-old Akita puppy underneath the bus. Jingxiu is immediately charmed by this frightened puppy. He picks up the dog and comforts the dog.
While the others are tending to the bus, Jingxiu walks around in the area to ask people in nearby houses if they know anything who might own this puppy. No one he asks knows anything about the dog, so Jingxiu decides to keep the dog, even though he knows that his wife Jiazhen doesn’t like dogs. He decides to name the puppy BaTong.
Jiazhen is predictably upset at the sight of the dog. She has a fear of dogs, ever since she was bitten by a dog when she was a child. Before she and Jingxiu got married, she made him promise that they would never have a dog in their household. Jingxiu tells her that he’s only going to keep this stray dog temporarily until he can find a permanent home for this adorable pup.
Jingxiu goes through the motions of putting up flyers around town to solicit adoption of the puppy. But he rejects people who answer the ads, for various reasons. Of course, we all know that Jingxiu doesn’t really want to give away this dog, and he ends up keeping it. Jingxiu becomes very attached to BaTong, by treating the dog as his best friend. Eventually, Jiazhen warms up to the dog and considers BaTong to be a member of the family too.
“Hachiko” shows that it isn’t all smooth sailing for Jingxiu and BaTong. When BaTong is a puppy and small enough to hide in a backpack, Jingxiu secretly brings the dog to work (he keeps the dog in his office), even though it’s against the campus policy for pet dogs to be the work offices.
BaTong’s presence on the campus isn’t a secret for long: One day, the escapes through an open office door while Jingxiu is teaching in a classroom. And you can easily predict the rest. Jingxiu doesn’t get in a lot of trouble for it, but BaTong is now officially banned from being in any building on the campus.
As BaTong grows up, he has a routine of accompanying Jingxiu to and from work, with BaTong patiently waiting outside in a campus area for his Jingxiu at the end of each day. BaTong has a routine of sitting on the same seat. A newsstand operator (played by Qian Bo) nearby gets to know BaTong and is friendly with the dog. The newsstand operator sometimes feeds treats to BaTong.
Jingxiu’s close bond with Batong comes at a price. It’s later revealed that Jingxiu’s son feels that Jingxiu treats the dog better than Jingxiu treats his own son. After the on graduates from college, there’s a subplot about the son contemplating taking a job as a web designed in Beijing. Jingxiu doesn’t seem very concerned about the son’s decision will be and tells him that the son can make his own decisions.
The son interprets it as Jingxiu not really caring at all, because what the son really wants are for Jingxiu to give him some advice or some indication that the son will be missed if he moves away from home. Surprisingly, the usually prickly Jiazhen is the more nurturing parent in this situation.
“Hachiko” then takes a tragic turn, which won’t be revealed in this review, because some people watching this movie won’t know what happened in real life. It’s enough to say that it’s a bittersweet part of this story about family love and loyalty. The cast members’ performances, as well as directing and screenplay, are perfectly competent but not outstanding. Overall, “Hachiko” is exactly what you might expect from a movie about a beloved family pet and how that family copes with loss and grief.
CMC Pictures released “Hachiko” in select U.S. cinemas on April 14, 2023. The movie was released in China on March 31, 2023.
The following is a press release from Animal Planet:
Puppy Bowl returns for its 19th year on Sunday, February 12, 2023, at 2:00PM ET / 11:00AM/PT, and for the first time will be simulcast across Animal Planet, Discovery Channel, TBS, HBO Max and discovery+ — a rare opportunity for new viewers to experience the original and longest running call-to-adoption TV event. This year’s program will feature Bleacher Report host Taylor Rooks, sports commentator Steve Levy, Egypt Sherrod and Mike Jackson (“Married to Real Estate”), Faruq Tauheed (“Battlebots”), Zak Bagans (“Ghost Adventures”), Alex Guarnaschelli (“Supermarket Stakeout”) along with talent from Discovery Channel’s “Street Outlaws” franchise, New Line Cinema’s upcoming film “Shazam! Fury of the Gods,” and some of the biggest sports personalities from Warner Bros. Discovery Sports.
With more puppies and more inspiring adoption stories than ever before, Puppy Bowl XIX will highlight the incredible work of rescue and shelter workers who dedicate their lives to helping animals find their forever homes. Puppy Bowl XIX will feature 122 puppies, 67 shelters and rescues across 34 states — and for the first-time will feature a Native American animal organization and a puppy player from Dominica, West Indies.
Puppy Bowl XIX will start with a pre-game show at 1:00PM ET/ 10:00AM PT to give audiences the inside scoop on the Puppy Bowl draft with exclusive interviews with coaches and players. Audiences will also learn more about each puppy player’s breed mix and other unique traits from Wisdom Panel™ dog DNA test that could help determine which puppy player will have a furry leg-up on the field. The pre-game show will also provide a first-look at the ARM & HAMMER™ SLIDE™ Kitty Halftime Show.
The game kicks off when the PEDIGREE® Starting Lineup players take to the field and as the game progresses, it will be revealed which puppy player has what it takes to be named the BISSELL® MVP (Most Valuable Puppy) or to win the SUBARU OF AMERICA, INC. Underdog Award.
Puppy Bowl referee Dan Schachner returns for his 12th year of overseeing the stumbles & tumbles and calling all the puppy penalties and touchdowns while sportscasters Steve Levy and Taylor Rooks return to provide play-by-play commentary. Audiences will also see the return of Puppy Bowl’s ‘Adoptable Pup’ segments sponsored by PEDIGREE ®. Sprinkled throughout the program, 11 shelters from around the country will feature one of their puppies (and 3 shelters with kittens during KITTY HALF-TIME) that are all up for adoption during the game! Other fan-favorite elements return, including the Puppy Cheer Squad, the coveted water-bowl cam, the slo-mo cam, end zone pylon cameras to catch all the action, in addition to an all-new backstage look at the puppy players’ red-carpet arrivals ahead of the game.
Also returning are the SUBARU OF AMERICA, INC. “Pup Close and Personal” segments that share the back stories of the adorable star athletes. Viewers will meet Cooper, a Boston terrier/ boxer mix from Seattle Humane, who marks the Emerald City’s debut in Puppy Bowl with a visit to the Seattle Seahawks’ Training Camp where Defensive End Shelby Harris coaches Cooper on his signature moves, and Inya, a Chihuahua/ miniature Pinscher mix rescued by the Phoenix-based NAGI Foundation working to restore the sacredness of the Native American community by uniting people and animals. For more “Pup Close and Personal” stories featured in Puppy Bowl XIX, please click HERE.
During the game, audiences will also meet eleven special needs puppy players looking for their forever homes that will include Julius, a hearing-impaired Dalmatian, Marmalade, a sight and hearing-impaired Border Collie/ Australian Cattle Dog; Mykonos, a American Staffordshire Terrier/ Bulldog with a cleft palate, among others.
Official Puppy Bowl XIX sponsors include BISSELL®, WAYFAIR®, ARM & HAMMER™ SLIDE™, NEXGARD®, The PEDIGREE® brand, SUBARU OF AMERICA, INC., TEMPTATIONS™, and WISDOM PANEL™ pet DNA test.
Viewers can join the conversation on social media by using the hashtag #PuppyBowl and following Animal Planet on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and TikTok for the latest updates.
Keep checking PuppyBowl.com for more information on the participating pups and to learn how you join in on the fun.
Puppy Bowl XIX is produced for Animal Planet and discovery+ by Bright Spot Content, an All3Media America company.
About Animal Planet
Animal Planet, one of Discovery, Inc.’s great global brands, is dedicated to creating high quality content with global appeal delivering on its mission to keep the childhood joy and wonder of animals alive by bringing people up close in every way. Available to 360 million homes in more than 205 countries and territories, Animal Planet combines content that explores the undeniable bonds forged between animals and humans, optimized across all screens around the world. For more information, please visit www.animalplanet.com.
Discovery Channel is dedicated to creating the highest quality non-fiction content that informs and entertains its consumers about the world in all its wonder, diversity and amazement. The network, which is distributed to 100.8 million U.S. homes, can be seen in 224 countries and territories, offering a signature mix of compelling, high-end production values and vivid cinematography across genres including, science and technology, exploration, adventure, history and in-depth, behind-the-scenes glimpses at the people, places and organizations that shape and share our world. For more information, please visit www.discovery.com.
TBS, a Warner Bros. Discovery brand, is a top-rated destination for television among young adults and known for escapist, good-time entertainment, featuring smart, imaginative characters with heart and comedic edge. From unscripted and scripted comedy series to game shows, and animated programming, TBS’ Originals slate is comprised of some of the most popular shows on cable — “AEW: Dynamite,” “American Dad!,” “Miracle Workers,” “Wipeout,” “Friday Night Vibes,” and “The Cube” along with upcoming series “Stupid Pet Tricks”. TBS’ lineup also includes comedy hits like “Young Sheldon” and “The Big Bang Theory,” classic sitcom favorites such as “Friends,” blockbuster movies, and live event coverage of Major League Baseball, the NCAA Division I Men’s Basketball Championship and “ELEAGUE,” Warner Bros. Discovery’s eSports gaming competition. Website: www.tbs.com
About HBO Max
HBO Max™ is a streaming platform that offers best in class quality entertainment, delivering the greatest array of series, movies, and specials from the iconic brands of HBO, Warner Bros., and DC, as well as Max Originals and blockbuster films. The platform launched in the United States in May 2020 and introduced a lower priced, advertising-supported tier in June 2021. Currently available in 61 countries, HBO Max began its global rollout launching in markets across Latin America and the Caribbean in 2021, followed by European launches in the Nordics, Iberia, the Netherlands and Central and Eastern Europe.
discovery+ is the definitive non-fiction, real life subscription streaming service from Warner Bros. Discovery. With the largest-ever content offering at launch, discovery+ features a wide range of exclusive, original series across popular passion verticals including lifestyle and relationships; home and food; true crime; paranormal; adventure and natural history; as well as science, tech and the environment, and a slate of high-quality documentaries. For more, visit discoveryplus.com, or find the discovery+ app on most mobile and connected TV devices.
About WBD Sports
WBD Sports is a global leader in premium sports content across all platforms, engaging fans in more than 200 markets and in over 20 languages. The WBD Sports U.S. portfolio includes multi-platform partnerships with the National Basketball Association (“NBA”), Major League Baseball (“MLB”), National Collegiate Athletic Association (“NCAA”), National Hockey League (“NHL”) and United States Soccer Federation (“USSF”). WBD Sports Europe features Eurosport, the leading sport destination and the Home of the Olympic Games in Europe, as well as Global Cycling Network (GCN), Global Mountain Bike Network (GMBN) and Golf Digest. In 2022, Eurosport UK combined with BT Sport to create an extensive collection of live sports coverage for fans in the UK and Ireland.
WBD Sports’ owned-and-operated platforms include Bleacher Report – the #1 digital destination for young sports fans, reaching more than 175 million users each month – Eurosport.com, Europe’s #1 online sports news website, House of Highlights, HighlightHER and a full suite of digital and social brands. TNT Sports is WBD’s sports content brand in Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico. Several regional sports networks, serving fans live sports in each of the respective U.S. markets, are also owned and/or operated by WBD Sports in the U.S.
A bouncy, crowd-pleasing French Bulldog, Winston, was declared Best in Show at Philadelphia’s prestigious National Dog Show Presented by Purina, emerging victorious before a raucous Thanksgiving Day crowd and national TV audience on NBC.
The #1-ranked all-breed canine in America, Winston spent his puppyhood being raised by Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Morgan Fox, who is part of the ownership group. Winston now has 78 Best in Shows in his career, was the #1-ranked dog in the Non-Sporting Group last year and won Reserve Best in Show (second place) at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show in New York this past June. Perry Payson of Bixby, Okla., guided Winston to the big win as handler and is also the breeder and a member of the ownership group. Winston’s registered name is GCHP Fox Canyon’s I Won The War at Goldshield.
“He’s a showdog with personality and beauty and a perfect fit for the breed,” said Best in Show judge Vicki Seiler-Cushman of Xenia, Ohio. “He has a razzle dazzle that says ‘I’m here to win tonight.’ You can just tell that he can also go home and be the perfect pet.”
“I get excited every time and so does Winston,” Payson said about the Best in Show stage in which just seven dogs compete for the ultimate title. “The National Dog Show in Philadelphia with the television exposure on Thanksgiving Day is obviously special. We’ve had a lot of support and that’s what happens with a dog of this quality.” Payson had a crowd-pleasing response to the victory, lifting his charge into the air in celebration as the announcement was made. Winston and Payson choose Purina Pro Plan as their nutrition of choice.
Coverage of the show and Winston’s triumphant moments were broadcast to a holiday audience on NBC following the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. This year marks the 21st anniversary of the holiday special, which has become a family viewing tradition since its inception in 2002. NBC will an encore presentation of the two-hour special on Saturday, Nov. 26 from 8-10 p.m. ET/PT (7 PM CT/MT).
Reserve Best in Show (second place) went to an English Toy Spaniel named Cooper and handler Christopher Keith of Dallas, TX. Winner of the Toy Group, Cooper’s registered name is GCCH Ringo Star OT Nevskoop Hobbita.
The following are the other 2022 National Dog Show Group Winners:
• Sporting – an Irish Water Spaniel named “Sloane” of Hamden, CT • Working Group – an Alaskan Malamute named “Reus – the Italian Stallion.” originally from Palermo, Italy and now a resident of Wisconsin • Terrier Group – a American Staffordshire Terrier named “Trouble” of St. Augustine, Florida • Hound Group – a Treeing Walker Coonhound named “Nate” of Somerset, KY • Herding – a German Shepherd named “River” of Woodstock, GA
Culture Representation: The documentary film “Cat Daddies” features a group of predominantly white people (with one African American) discussing how men and cats can have special bonds with each other.
Culture Clash: The men in the documentary dispel stereotypes that the only people who are passionate about cats are “crazy cat ladies,” and they share stories about how their cats sometimes helped them get through rough times in their lives.
Culture Audience: “Cat Daddies” will appeal mainly to people who like cats and are interested in feel-good stories about living with domesticated cats.
Through entertaining and heartwarming stories, the documentary “Cat Daddies” is proof that it’s an outdated stereotype to think that people who love cats are mostly women. The movie is really about how humans and cats enrich each others’ lives. It’s a simple concept, but the movie does an excellent job of portraying all the complex and nuanced ways that cats can bring joy and companionship, even to people who thought that they weren’t very fond of cats.
Directed by Mye Huong, “Cat Daddies” focuses on nine different men in the United States who share their personal stories about how their cats changed their lives. Most of the men were in their 30s and 40s at the time of being filmed for “Cat Daddies,” while one of the men is over the age of 60. The nine “cat daddies” in the documentary are:
Nathan Kehn (also known as Nathan the Cat Lady) is an actor/social media influencer who lives in North Hollywood, California. He has made somewhat of a career out of documenting his antics with his four cats: Pickles, Ginger, Annie and Princess. Kehn says that once he reached 25,000 followers on social media with his cat videos, he knew that he could try to make a living from it, especially since the cat videos boosted his social media following to a minimum number that he says is needed to be considered for certain acting jobs. As a bachelor who admits he spends a lot of date nights alone, Kehn says he now knows, “I can’t be with someone who’s not an animal lover.” He mentions that he broke up with an ex-girlfriend because she didn’t like cats and wanted him to get rid of his cats.
Jeff Judkins is a software engineer, who moved from California to Minnesota, and back to California, during the course of the film production of “Cat Daddies,” which was filmed mostly in 2020. The movie has an epilogue of updates of what the “cat daddies” have been up to through 2022. Judkins has a black-and-white male cat named Zulu, while his roommate Erin LemMon has a female cat named Mrs. Fitzby. Together, these roommates like to frequently go hiking and camping with their cats. The documentary includes a particularly harrowing experience that Judkins and LemMon had with a wildfire that hit their neighborhood in Boulder Creek, California.
David Giovanni is an elderly former construction worker who has the most tearjearking story in the movie. Giovanni, an immigrant from the European country of Georgia, has lived in the U.S. since 2001, and has fallen on hard times in New York City. Homeless and broke since 2018, he has health issues, such as cerebral palsy and a cancerous tumor on his right arm. He says what gives him the will to live is a brown tabby male cat named Lucky, whom Giovanni treats like a son. Giovanni’s relationship with Lucky (who was raised by Giovanni since Lucky was a kitten) goes though some difficult transitions because most homeless shelters do not allow cats, and there’s a period of time when Giovanni’s extended stay in a hospital and surgery recovery force him to be separated from Lucky.
Chris Alese is a New York City police officer who became a friend of Giovanni’s when he would see Giovanni and Lucky while on patrol duty. “Cat Daddies” shows how these two men from different backgrounds formed a friendship that was deeply affected by what was going to happen to Lucky when Giovanni had to be separated from the cat. These experiences moved Alese so much, he eventually became a cat daddy, to a female tabby named Pez.
Jordan Lide is a firefighter at Belmont Fire Department in Greenville, South Carolina. Lide and his co-workers help take care of an orange-and-white cat named Flame the Arson Cat, who wandered into the fire station one day as a stray, malnourished cat, and charmed the employees there into keeping him. In the documentary, Lide describes himself as the main person who convinced his boss to let the cat live at the fire station, even though having a cat in this workplace was against the rules at the time. Flame has made himself at home and has fit right in with the unpredictability of working at a fire station. Lide says Flame has never gotten in the way when the fire trucks have to suddenly leave and enter the building for emergencies.
David Durst is a truck driver who lives in Florida but travels all over the United States with his beloved feline Flora the Trucker Cat, who is a tan tabby who appears to be a Persian mix. Durst says that dogs are the most popular pets that truckers bring on the road, but he states that cat pets are more common on truck-driving excursions than most people think they are. (He also mentions that birds and reptiles are occasional pet companions for truckers too.) Flora is an unusual domesticated cat who likes activities on all sorts of rugged terrain outdoors, such as climbing on cliffs and trekking through snow-covered land. Durst is shown in the documentary on adventure trips with Flora and his girlfriend Destiny Rolfe, including some gorgeous scenes in the Arizona wilderness of Flagstaff and Sedona.
Will Zweigart is the founder of the Brooklyn, New York-based non-profit group Flatbush Cats, whose specialty is spaying and neutering stray cats to help reduce the homeless cat epidemic in Brooklyn. Feral cats that are too wild or too “unsocialized” to be adopted go through a humane “trap, neuter, return” (TNR) process, while the stray cats that are adoptable are placed in foster care or permanent homes. Zweigart (who’s a cat daddy to two cats named Teddy and Franny) says the biggest challenge for Flatbush Cats is fundraising, and this is the most important lesson he’s learned about getting money for a non-profit: “You have to document your work … We committed to social media early on.”
Ryan Robertson is a stunt performer in Atlanta who thought he would never live with a cat because he never had pets as a child, since his mother was afraid of animals. “I shared her fear,” he confesses. That all changed when he met a male cat named Toodles, a brown Maine Coon who weighs a whopping 25 pounds. Robertson got Toodles at a PetSmart adoption event. He also credits Toodles with helping him court the woman who would become Robertson’s girlfriend: fitness trainer Megan Dovell, who adores cats and is also featured in the documentary.
Peter Mares (a schoolteacher in Dana Point, California) has a black-and-white female cat named Keys, who has become a minor social media celebrity nicknamed GoalKitty. It all started when Mares noticed that Keys likes to stand on her hind legs and raise her front legs, thereby looking like a human soccer goalie holding her hands straight up in the air. He took some photos of her in this standing position, some of the photos went viral, and the rest is history. He sells GoalKitty merchandise and makes personal appearances with her, with some people traveling hundreds of miles just to meet her. Just like many of the men featured in the documentary, Mares says his love life improved because he found a partner who loves cats too.
Of course, any documentary called “Cat Daddies” has plenty of adorable cat footage, which is aided by engaging cinematography by Rob E. Bennett and very good editing by Hoang and Dave Boyle. Hoang and Boyle are also the producers of “Cat Daddies,” which is clearly a project that is a labor of love that can be enjoyed by anyone who appreciates how pet animals are often ideal companions through good times and bad times.
“Cat Daddies” has some commentary about the myth that only women are supposed to like cats the most. Carson Couch, a firefighter at Belmont Fire Department in Greenville, describes how Flame affected the men who work in the fire department: “A lot of the guys here have only had dogs. Flame changed their perception of cats. He’s personable and lovable.” All of the men interviewed in the documentary say some version of the truth that a lot of men have always liked cats. But over time, it’s become more socially acceptable for men to publicly admit it, because liking cats isn’t supposed to be limited to one particular human gender.
Zweigart, who is the only one in the group of interviewees who has a job completely devoted to cats, started Flatbush Cats when he worked in advertising. He has since left his advertising job to focus on Flatbush Cats full-time. Zweigart says Flatbush Cats’ next big goal is to open a low-cost clinic in Brooklyn that will offer a variety of medical services for cats but will primarily be focused on spaying and neutering.
At a Q&A after a “Cat Daddies” screening during the movie’s opening weekend in New York City, Hoang was in attendance with several of the documentary’s filmmaking team and interview subjects, including Bennett, Giovanni, Alese, Zweigart, Judkins and Lede. Zweigart gave an update on the planned Flatbush Cats clinic, by saying that he signed a 10-year-lease on a space for the clinic, and the group has a goal to raise $1.5 million in start-up funds for the clinic, which will also be involved in adoptions and foster care for pets. (Dogs will also be treated at the clinic.)
Lucky’s bittersweet journey with Giovanni is chronicled in the documentary. Full details won’t be revealed in this review. However, it’s enough to say that, as of this writing, Lucky is still in Giovanni’s life, but in a different way than when the “Cat Daddies” documentary began filming them.
“Cat Daddies” isn’t just a movie about men gushing over their cats. The documentary shows, through actions and the men’s own words, how living with cats taught them how to become more patient and more open-minded. Cats by nature are known for being more independent than most other domesticated pets, but this independence also means that someone who lives with a cat has to earn the cat’s trust. Once that trust is earned, as “Cat Daddies” shows so terrifically, it can turn into a beautiful and loving friendship where the cat becomes a member of the family.
Gray Hat Productions released “Cat Daddies” in New York City on October 14, 2022, with an expansion to cinemas in more U.S. cities, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand in subsequent weeks.
The following is a press release from First Run Features:
Millions of rescue dogs from the rural South have been transported to new homes thanks to the tireless efforts of a vast, grassroots network of dog rescuers. “Free Puppies!” is the true story of where those dogs come from and how a group of feisty and intrepid women rescuers are working together to save them.
Although transports have moved dogs from the South for decades, when Hurricane Katrina left more than 250,000 pets stranded, the infrastructure of modern pet transport for a nation-wide dog rescue effort was born. Since then, individual volunteers, transporters, shelters and rescue groups have created a movement to place millions of southern dogs in areas of the country with high demand for adoption but low supply.
By following a group of women dog rescuers from Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee, “Free Puppies!” reveals the challenges that contribute to the rescue dog crisis in the first place. These women not only save dogs from euthanasia, but also organize affordable and accessible spay and neuter, reform local ordinances, advocate for humane education, and fight urgent and complex challenges facing underserved areas of the rural South. The film includes interviews with the ASPCA, Atlanta Humane Society, McKamey Animal Center, My Kids Have Paws Veterinary Clinic, Dixie Day Spay, and dozens of rescue organizations, shelter directors, healthcare providers, and local officials.
“Free Puppies!,” a film by Samantha Wishman and Christina Thomas opens August 12, 2022, in live cinemas.
70 minutes | Color | English
Samantha Wishman – Director, Producer, Editor
Christina Thomas – Director, Co-Producer, Editor
Muffie Meyer – Story Editor
Carter McCormick – Director of Photography Eliot Popko – Director of Photography
Joey McCormick and Willard Hamilton – Original Music
“The American Rescue Dog Show” is the preeminent dog competition featuring rescued companions as they strut their fluff, competing for a slew of “best in” titles while stealing America’s hearts. These prized pups may be cute, but the competition is fierce. In the two-hour special, rescued dogs from all across the country will compete in seven categories including Best In Underbite, Best In Snoring, Best In Belly Rubs and more. A $10,000 donation to a local animal welfare organization will be made in honor of the winning dog in each category, and each category winner will have the chance to be named the Best In Rescue with an additional $100,000 donation being made in their honor. This comedic and heartfelt take on the world of competitive dog shows is a celebration of rescued dogs and the joy they bring to our lives. Dynamic duo Rob Riggle and Joe Tessitore host America’s cutest competition special with ESPN’s Monica McNutt serving as sideline correspondent. Dog-loving celebrity guest judges, who will be announced at a later date, will also make special appearances.
“The American Rescue Dog Show” was created by Michael Levitt and Jennifer Schulz. Michael Levitt, Charles Wachter, Jill Goularte and Jennifer Schulz serve as executive producers.
The following is a press release from Discovery+ and Animal Planet:
Everyone’s favorite other game is back in action for the ultimate woof-a-thon. The original call-to-adoption television event and cutest sports competition, PUPPY BOWL, returns for its 18th year, highlighting more shelters, more incredible stories, and the most puppies ever featured in PUPPY BOWL history. Get ready to cheer on the adoptable puppy players of TEAM RUFF and TEAM FLUFF as they give it their all to catch air-speed and take home this year’s CHEWY “Lombarky” trophy. Catch all the action in the GEICO ‘stadium within a stadium’ that takes this game to the next level. Between ear pulls, tail tugs, sloppy kisses, incredible interceptions, puppy penalties and hard-won touchdowns, this is the game you don’t want to miss! Tune in to PUPPY BOWL XVIII, the 3-hour spectacular event that can be streamed on discovery+, the definitive non-fiction, real life subscription streaming service, and Animal Planet on Sunday, February 13 at 2 PM ET/11 AM PT.
PUPPY BOWL celebrates adoptable pups in all their cuteness and showcases the incredible shelters and rescues, as well as their staffers, who dedicate their lives to helping animals find their fur-ever loving homes. This year an astounding 67 shelters and rescues from 33 states bring 118 incredible adoptable puppy players out to sport their TEAM RUFF ‘Tail Mary Tangerine’ and TEAM FLUFF ‘Bark Blue’ bandana colors. Each pup player is coming to strut their paws and show off their uniqueness, and with the help of the Wisdom Panel™ dog DNA test, we’ll find out what’s beyond those bandanas and luscious fur, and how each dog’s breed mix might give them a leg-up on the field. And on top of these hidden traits which may be revealed, these players will give it their all to chase, fetch, guard, heel, and sprint to the CHEWY end zone pylons for the ultimate touchdowns and score game catching field goals on THE HOME DEPOT goal posts.
Thanks to our returning and notoriously entertaining slo-mo cam, fans will get to see these canines’ devotion to the game as they put their tricks to the test to score a touchdown and a possible chase of the tail. While showing off their tricks and shakes, audiences will get the pawesome views from the water bowl cam which will catch our furry friends in a PEDIGREE® timeout to re-energize their quirky selves and quench their thirst. For the ultimate top-notch aerial view, the TEMPTATIONS™ Kitty Sky Box will also be featured throughout the game so fans can feel as if they’re in the center of all the puppy madness.
The PUPPY BOWL XVIII Pre-Game Show begins exclusively on discovery+ and Animal Planet at 1PM ET/ 10AM PT where fan-favorite PUPPY BOWL sportscasters Rodt Weiler, Sheena Inu, James Hound, and field reports Mini Pinscher and Greta Dane provide the inside scoop on this year’s Puppy Bowl Draft ahead of the big game. The pre-game show spotlights exclusive interviews with coaches and players, a look at the adorable pups warming up and running their favorite routes during CHEWY’s ‘Play of the Day.’ In addition, audiences will get a first-look tease at the purr-fect halftime show through the ARM & HAMMER™ Clump & Seal™ Kitty Halftime Report. We’ll also get puppy DNA analysis from Wisdom Panel™ dog DNA test Players Report and catch up with several special puppy players past and present including Chunky Monkey, who won the hearts of many during Puppy Bowl XVII and Marshall, who was declared victorious as the winner of the Puppy Bowl XVII ‘Pupularity Playoff”. Those who tune-in will meet Biscuit, the Washington Capitals service pup who is training with America’s VetDogs and see a special look at the BISSELL Pet FoundationTM and their rescue efforts of transporting cats and dogs out of the Hurricane Ida danger zone to safety at Animal Welfare League in Alexandria, VA.
To kick off the game, special guests Elmo & Tango are traveling all the way from Sesame Street to gather the PEDIGREE® Starting Lineup players in the center of the field for the PUPPY BOWL XVIII coin toss to who from Team Fluff or Team Ruff will be the first to wag their tails! In addition, Elmo & Tango will be featured throughout the game as they cheer on one unforgettable pup, Wasabi, a Chihuahua/Cocker Spaniel mix from The Sato Project, from the sidelines throughout the game. As the game progresses, we will see which pup has what it takes for the one and only BISSELL Pet FoundationTM MVP (Most Valuable Puppy) award by scoring the most touchdowns. This pup will join a league of past MVP champions, and through TROPICAL SMOOTHIE CAFE®, audiences will catch up with a previous Puppy Bowl MVP now in his loving, forever home and living his best life “on Tropic Time”. Be sure to tune in to find out which lucky pup will also take home the coveted SUBARU OF AMERICA, INC. Underdog Award!
And of course, Dan Schachner, PUPPY BOWL’s official and favorite Ruff-eree is returning for his 11th year of calling the puppy penalties, ruffs stumbles & tumbles, and awesome touchdowns for a game unlike any other. Dan is ready for the ultimate puppy showdown and fans will hear all these calls and more from returning commentators Steve Levy and Taylor Rooks as they give us the play-by-play coverage of the rambunctious pups of Team Fluff and Team Ruff as they frolic, jump, dive, and occasionally snooze their way to victory. In addition to seeing these puppy players on the field, audiences will also see the return of the SUBARU OF AMERICA, INC. Pup Close and Personal segments that shine a light on adorable star athletes including one special Senior Spotlight story which showcases that age is just a number and senior dogs are ultimately puppies at heart. This year’s Pup Close and Personal features various segments including:
A special profile on Orange Twins Rescue, started by Ariana Grande and her choreographers and creative directors’, twins Scott & Brian, who accompany a pair of bonded Siberian Husky/ Chihuahua mix puppy sisters, Bimini & Tayce to Farm Animal Refuge in San Diego where they meet baby goats and cows
Kirby, a very special Labrador retriever who is the Houston Texans’ service pup in-training in partnership with America’s Vet Dogs, who visits NRG Stadium for a service practice session with Texans player Justin Reid
Hoku, a American Staffordshire Terrier/ Catahoula Leopard Mix; and Puppy Bowl’s first ever Hawaiian pup, from Maui Humane Society, who as a participant of the rescue’s ‘Buddies’ program, embarks on a special field trip to a hike in Maui’s National Parks where we learn about the legend of the ‘Poi’ dogs of ancient Polynesian culture
Birch, a Chihuahua / Toy Fox Terrier mix who is cared for by a special foster under Ninna’s Road to Rescue foster program and is coached for the big game by Puppy Bowl XVI alum, Darcy
Benny, a special needs Labradoodle, who is living his best life with a foster from Bosley’s Place where he spends his days practicing laps on the lush property with his fellow dog companions
A special look at The Dogist (Elias Weiss Friedman) who teams up with Pilots to the Rescue, to bring one incredible Dalmatian puppy, Pongo, on a flight from a Virginia shelter to New York City for PUPPY BOWL XVIII
In addition to these incredible Pup Close stories, PUPPY BOWL XVIII will also feature an unforgettable senior spotlight story featuring Mr. Lee Asher from the upcoming discovery+ series, My Pack Life, as he hosts Sharkey, a Greyhound Mix from Family Dogs New Life shelter at his own rural sanctuary, The Asher House, in Oregon where Sharkey will not have a day full of adventure but will have a chance of finding a forever home.
During the game, audiences will also meet nine fuzzball special needs players that are looking forward to finding their forever home; including Benny, a wheelchair bound Labradoodle featured in one of this year’s Pup Close stories; Forrest, a one-eyed Neapolitan Mastiff/Cane Corso Mix; Rocket, a deaf Chihuahua/Dachshund: Pongo, a deaf Dalmatian; Ridley, a deaf and vision impaired Border Collie; Bunny, a deaf American Staffordshire Terrier/Labrador Retriever Mix; Moby, a French Bulldog with a cleft palate; Bimini, a vision impaired Siberian Husky/Chihuahua Mix; and Irwin, a three-legged American Pit Bull Terrier/Chihuahua Mix. This year’s big game will feature the return of two special PUPPY BOWL moments. First, TEAM RUFF and TEAM FLUFF players will be cheered by adorable, adoptable puppy cheerleaders who will root and howl for their favorite players from the sidelines. This year, the new cheer squad will bring-it from their own special sideline setup to shake their pom poms, run a few cheer-formations, and amp up the volume with an overload of cuteness as PUPPY BOWL XVIII players make their way down the field. Next, audiences will again see Puppy Bowl’s ‘Adoptable Pup’ segments, hosted by Dan Schachner and sponsored by CHEWY. Sprinkled throughout the program, 11 shelters from around the country will feature one of their puppies (and 3 shelters with kittens during KITTY HALF-TIME) that are all up for adoption during the game!
In addition to these unforgettable moments, put your paws together midway through the game for the ARM & HAMMER™ Clump & Seal™ KITTY HALF-TIME SHOW for these adoptable kittens at their practically purr-fect beach party. At this ocean-side getaway, audiences will experience the beach-tastic party with these felines having some fun in the sun and learning about their heartwarming adoption stories in their loving new fur-ever home.
Fans can also access even more furry fun and exclusive content by downloading discovery+. Leading up to PUPPY BOWL XVIII, discovery+ and Animal Planet GO users will find exclusive in-app original programming, including the PUPPY BOWL mid-form series “Pupclose & Personal” featuring Ariana Grande’s best friends and choreographers, Scott and Brian Nicholson, who founded Orange Twins Rescue, a non-profit organization that rehabilitates and rescue animals in need. Plus, we’ll also see Dan the Ref take us down memory lane, highlighting the very best and firsts of Puppy Bowl’s 17-year history. Additionally, fans are also invited to Tweet along with game day commentator Meep the Bird and vote in real time, for the winner of the Most Valuable Puppy award. Results will be revealed during the epic program.
For the first time in Puppy Bowl history, there will be 23 exclusive Puppy Bowl NFTs released leading up to and on the day of the game hosted by Chronicle, an NFT studio and marketplace. Each drop will feature unique and pawsitively adorable trading cards varying in price and rarity, and a portion of the proceeds from all the sales will benefit Orange Twins Rescue, an animal rescue organization founded by brothers Scott and Brian Nicholson, and Ariana Grande. For the latest on when the NFTs are releasing, follow along on Animal Planet’s Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and TikTok.
Additionally, fans can look forward to the following exclusive digital content: Elmo will be taking over Discovery’s Instagram Story to tell his own puppy adoption story; Kirby, the Houston Texans’ service pup in-training, will be hosting a Discovery Instagram Story takeover as he prepares to play in the Puppy Bowl; and the cutest pregame puppy scrimmage will stream live on Animal Planet TikTok the day of the game.
Fans can also show off their puppy fandom by using the special custom GIF sticker pack available by searching “Puppy Bowl” in the GIF section on social platforms or by visiting the Puppy Bowl GIPHY page.
Official PUPPY BOWL XVIII sponsors include ARM & HAMMER™ Clump & Seal™, BISSELL Pet FoundationTM, CHEWY, GEICO, THE HOME DEPOT, the PEDIGREE® brand, SUBARU OF AMERICA, INC., TEMPTATIONS™, TROPICAL SMOOTHIE CAFE®, and Wisdom Panel™ pet DNA test.
For more information about the shelters, rescues and organizations that participated in PUPPY BOWL XVIII, Animal Planet audiences can visit Puppybowl.com/Adopt.
PUPPY BOWL XVIII is produced for discovery+ and Animal Planet by Bright Spot Content, an All3Media America company. Simon Morris is executive producer and showrunner with Suzanne Rauscher and Sandy Varo Jarrell also serving as executive producers. For Animal Planet, Erin Wanner is executive producer, Pat Dempsey is supervising producer, and Marissa Donovan is production coordinator.