NEW YORK - Are you ready for some puppies?
On Super Bowl™ Sunday, Feb.3, from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m., Animal Planet's annual canine competition returns to the grand gridiron of the newly named GEICO Stadium in Puppy Bowl IX.
For the ninth year in a row, with the help of Petfinder.com, Animal Planet has searched shelters and rescue organizations across the nation for star players to participate in the most anticipated sports event in animal history. And on game day, 63 furry pups will battle for barking rights with a winning combination of terrier tackles, canine touchdowns, puppy penalties and fido first downs.
This year's Pedigree® starting lineup is hounding with pouncing poodles, scrambling schnauzers and blitzing beagles, all competing for the title of the Bissell® MVP (Most Valuable Puppy). But these pups will have to obey the rules and play nice, especially with the return of Dan Schachner as "The Ref," who isn't afraid to send a player to the locker room with a puppy penalty.
"The puppy players viewed me more as fresh meat than a ref last year," says Dan. "It took a few hard-hitting plays for them to realize their overwhelming cuteness and basset hound eyes wouldn't affect my judgment to fairly officiate this game."
In a game-day first, a squadron of hedgehog cheerleaders will occupy the sidelines and will root for their favorite players while sideline reporter "Meep the Bird" will return to tweet live updates throughout the game.
Follow @MeepTheBird on game day for the latest news, puppy penalties and behind-the-scenes moments from inside the stadium.
For the first time ever, new Puppy Cam technology will bring viewers closer to the action, with intimate "in your face" camera angles of dog snouts, wagging tails and thumping paws. Additionally, special cameras will slow down every lovable frame of adorable action while substitute players submerge their paws and rest their rumps in a special puppy hot tub, providing never-before-seen views of underwater puppy aquatics. Stars from Animal Planet's hit series Finding Bigfoot, Tanked, Call of the Wildman and more will provide ‘Surprisingly Human' commentary throughout the game, and fans
will also be treated to Puppy Bowl favorites such as the puppy cam, water bowl cam, kiss cam and an aerial view of the field provided by the Ice Breakers® Mints blimp and its hamster pilots.
If you're not in the mood for Beyoncé, put your paws up for an all-new edition of the Bissell® Kitty Half-Time Show. These cuddly calicos will dazzle fans with kitty gymnastics, furry acrobatics and overall kitten mayhem leading up to the grand finale confetti shower, sending all the "Single Kitties" (and viewers) into maximum cuteness overload.
All of the animals featured in Puppy Bowl IX come from shelters and rescue organizations across the United States and even Puerto Rico. This year's starting lineup includes puppies from Wayside Waifs Animal Rescue (Missouri), spcaLA (California), Tails of Love Animal Rescue (New York), Pitter Patter Animal Rescue (Wisconsin) and Big Fluffy Dog Rescue (Massachusetts). Viewers who are interested in adopting a pet in their area should visit Petfinder.com, which has helped more than 20 million pets find their fur-ever homes.IMAGES: Puppy Bowl XI starting lineup
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