The Puppy Bowl IX – 2013

Before the battle for Super Bowl glory was decided Sunday, there already was a winner — a cuddly and feisty one, for the cutest showing of athleticism.
This year’s Puppy Bowl Bissell “Most Valuable Puppy” prize goes to the most courageous pooch on the field – Marta, a Schnauzer/Beagle mix, from the adoption organization AHeinz57 Pet Rescue & Transport. She out-hustled and out-muscled dogs twice her size to take the MVP title.
“Marta’s tiny, but she’s not delicate, and she is deceptively athletic, which kind of tricked the bigger dogs” – says Daniel Schachner, who acted as “The Ref” on the field. It was his job to call puppy penalties including whining, illegal napping (“That was a big one this year”) and excessive cuteness (“when the burly cameramen stop what they’re doing to say ‘awww,’ that’s when you know”).

The Puppy Bowl IX - 2013
Puppy Bowl 2013.

Marta (a 10-week old Schnauzer/Beagle mix playing in her rookie year in the prestigious Puppy Bowl) has been officially named the Puppy Bowl IX MVP. Hailing from Omaha, this scrappy, shaggy sweetie came out of the gate as part of the 2013 Starting Line-Up at this year’s Puppy Bowl. She clawed and pawed her way to glory with dogged defensive plays against mutts easily twice her size in double-canine-coverage, and also put puppy points up on the board with a triumphant charge in the first half. This proud pooch become the ninth recipient of the coveted Most Valuable Puppy award and demonstrated why this annual event is the must-see sporting event of the year for pet lovers.
This was a high-scoring puppy bowl, with nine terrific touchdowns in total. MVP Marta took it to the doghouse in a run that also put her in contention for this year’s Subaru Drive of the Day. Alongside Aurora the Husky/Retriever for an endzone run in the third; the winner instead was Basset Hound Sally, who drove the entire length of the field with an assist from teammate and “platonic” pooch pal Harry. Slobbering siblings Eli and Tuck tore it up together with a joint TD, making news unexpectedly as teammates rather than rivals despite these two brothers being the talk of the town going into this year’s big Bowl game. High-stepping hounds Sally, Agatha, Unity, Elias, Aurora, Chestnut, and latecomer Butterscotch also smelled victory (and plenty more) with puppy touchdowns for each one of these frisky dingoes.

There will be a winner and a loser every Super Bowl Sunday. But at the “Puppy Bowl,” it’s always a win for animal shelters.
The show provides national exposure to the shelters across the country that provide the puppy athletes and the kittens that star in the halftime show, and introduces viewers to the different breeds and animals that need homes, animal workers say. Many shelters see bumps in visits from viewers who are inspired to adopt a pet.
“It raises awareness for our shelter and others that take part” – said Madeline Bernstein, president and CEO of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles. “It shows dogs in a happy, playful, fun way, which makes people think: ‘Gee, I could play with a dog too.’ You hope it will also stimulate adoptions, and if not, at least a positive attitude toward dogs, rather than they are just hairy and smelly.”
The “Puppy Bowl,” an annual two-hour TV special that mimics a football game with canine players, made its debut eight years ago on The Animal Planet. Dogs score touchdowns on a 10-by-19-foot gridiron carpet when they cross the goal line with a toy.
There is a Most Valuable Pup award, a water bowl cam, a new lipstick cam (it’s in the lips of the toys), slow-motion cameras, hedgehog referees, a puppy hot tub and a blimp with a crew of hamsters. Bios on each puppy player flash across the screen during close-ups of the action, letting viewers know how to find each animal for adoption.
Most of the puppies, however, are usually adopted by airtime since the show is filmed months ahead, said executive producer Melinda Toporoff, who is working on her fifth “Puppy Bowl.” But Bernstein said the point is to show that animals just like the ones on the show can be found at any shelter at any time.
“A lot of people have come in during the last year and said, ‘I want a dog just like Fumble’” – she said, referring to spcaLA’s player entry in “Puppy Bowl VIII” who earned the game’s Most Valuable Pup crown.
About 300 puppies and kittens have been featured on “Puppy Bowl” over the last decade, according to Petfinder.com, the country’s largest online pet adoption database that helps cast the show’s animal stars.
“Shelters and rescues are at capacity, and pet adoption is the responsible way to add to your family” – said Sara Kent, who oversees outreach to the 14.000 shelters and rescues that Petfinder works with.

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