Local shelters send 19 dogs to the Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl

Photo of TinaMarie Craven

Their noses are wet and they’re here to play, these pint-sized snugglers are ready to lick and wag their way into the end zone for the big game next weekend. Of the 160 shelter dogs and puppies from across the country participating in Animal Planet’s 16th annual Puppy Bowl and the third annual Dog Bowl, 19 of the furry athletes were selected from Connecticut rescues.

Every year Animal Planet showcases shelter dogs in the Puppy Bowl and Dog Bowl, where the canines will romp and chew their way to glory in this adorable spin on the Super Bowl.

Five of these playful pups were selected from the Danbury Animal Welfare Society (DAWS). Stephanie Barksdale, the operations manager at DAWS, said this is the second year DAWS has had its dogs participate in the Puppy Bowl, with four pups on the second string’s lineup in 2019. This is the first year the shelter has had one of its dogs make the starting lineup. DAWS darling Starla will be representing the shelter as a starting member of Team Ruff at the Puppy Bowl, airing on Animal Planet on Feb. 2 at 3 p.m. Starla is a cocker spaniel/'Siberian husky mix who has already found a loving home with a New Milford family.

Barksdale said Starla was found wandering around an abandoned area in rural Virginia when she was six weeks old and was rescued by one of DAWS’s partner shelters, A Reason to Believe Animal Rescue. At eight weeks, she was transported to DAWS where she was adopted by her foster family, who renamed her Colbie. “Now she’s living happily ever after,” Barksdale added.

DAWS pups Floofer and Lindy will be playing second string for Team Fluff at the Puppy Bowl. Both have since been adopted with Floofer finding a home in Southbury and Lindy now lives with a family in Danbury.

Barksdale said having DAWS canines participate in the Puppy Bowl and the Dog Bowl is beneficial to the shelter because it shows off the dogs.

“Somebody may have tossed them out in Virginia or Kentucky but when they get here they’re playful, they’re fun, they’re spunky, they’re peppy and they want to be with other dogs and be with people. It allows us to show them off on national TV and it will spotlight how wonderful these dogs really are.”

Starla is not the only Connecticut pup starring in the Puppy Bowl’s starting lineup. Sadie, an American staffordshire terrier/American bulldog mix from Pet Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) in Norwalk will be playing for Team Fluff on game day. PAWS executive director Ellen Simmonds said Sadie was part of a litter of 10 puppies who were rescued along with their mother after Animal Control found them under a bridge in Hartford. Simmonds said that Sadie’s mama was found “emaciated” and that her 10 pups had “completely sucked her dry.” Luckily, PAWS was able to provide the mother and puppies with the medical care and love they needed until they were ready to find their forever homes, which all of them found. Simmonds added that typically PAWS doesn’t have many puppies at the shelter, as it tries to take in “the community’s neediest animals” but thought Sadie would be a “stellar candidate” when the Puppy Bowl reached out to the shelter.

Two of DAWS’s now adopted senior dogs, Snow and Spunky, will participate in the Dog Bowl on Feb. 1 at 8 p.m. Barksdale noted that she feels people overlook the benefits of adopting an older dog. “An older dog is already trained and housebroken, already has decent manners and they’re just as much fun as puppies. They want to go on walks, they want to cuddle up with you,” she said. “You don’t have to do a lot with older dogs other than give it love and affection and take it for walks.”

The rest of Connecticut’s second string pups at the Puppy Bowl include Benjamin from the Connecticut Humane Society in Newington, Braham and Rubble from East Hartford’s Pack Leaders of Connecticut and Squash and Tin Man from Dog Star Rescue in Bloomfield. The rest of the Connecticut canines will represent their respective shelters at the Dog Bowl. These dogs will include Jaxon from Pack Leaders of Connecticut, Ivy from the Friends of the New Haven Animal Shelter, Harper, Lady Jane, Mickey, Spud and Sweet Potato from One More Dog Rescue in Wethersfield and Little Ricky from William Berloni Theatrical Animals.

Currently Ivya white senior pitbull terrier, from the Friends of the New Haven Animal Shelter is looking for a loving home. For more information about her, call 203-946-8110. One More Dog Rescue also still has two of its Dog Bowl participants listed on the shelter’s website as looking for homes. Harper is an adult boxer and Lady Jane is a senior yorkie mix with visual and hearing impairments. For more information about them, visit omdrescue.org.

According to Animal Planet, in previous years all of the dogs and puppies that have participated in the Puppy Bowl and the dogs in the Dog Bowl found forever homes.

When asked about how many critters DAWS houses, Barksdale said the shelter can have as many as 90 animals in the system at any given time. She noted that when adopting from a shelter like DAWS, people are able to actually save two pets.

“Every dog and cat we can get out of here, we save another from euthanasia down South.”

Barksdale said adopting a pet from DAWS is a simple process and noted that the shelter wants to find a home for each animal..

“A shelter is not a place for a pet,” she said. “A house is a place for a pet.”

For more information about all of the shelters participating in the Puppy Bowl and the Dog Bowl, visit animalplanet.com/tv-shows/puppybowl.