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, five of the furry athletes were selected from the Danbury Animal Welfare Society (DAWS).

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. 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 the 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.”

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.”

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 the Puppy Bowl and the Dog Bowl, visit animalplanet.com/tv-shows/puppybowl.