Forget the Pats, the Giants, and any of those other guys. The Connecticut Humane Society has a new favorite athlete and football team: Benjamin of Team Ruff.
That’s right, CHS has a puppy competing in this year’s Puppy Bowl XVI on Animal Planet. Rumor has it he will score a touchdown after dodging a collie, Chihuahua mixes, a Doberman, a blind Aussie, a Great Dane and other players on Team Fluff, as well as resisting the temptation to run off with a chew toy. It’s the first time a CHS pup has been drafted to the official game. CHS pups typically serve as Puppy Bowl ambassadors, visiting national TV shows to promote the show each January.
In case you’ve been too busy the past few years watching the actual big game—you know, the one with the humans—to get a good look at Puppy Bowl, here’s a refresher: A bunch of itty bitty dogs barrel around a miniature football field complete with tiny goalposts, pouncing on each other and toys while earning penalties and touchdowns.
Official Rufferee Dan Schachner is there to call out “unnecessary ruffness,” “paws interference,” “napping on the field,” “illegal bathing” (playing in the water bowl), and “premature watering of the lawn” (taking a bathroom break).
Benjamin, a pitty puppy who came to CHS with his litter and mama dog from New Haven municipal animal control, was chosen from applicants across the country to join this year’s Bowl. He traveled from CHS Newington to Times Square in New York City at the end of 2019 for his big moment—the show is pre-recorded and not live, like actual football.
He played with new friends in the green room, did interviews (if that’s what you call chewing on the microphone held by a reporter), and showed in photoshoots how well he already knew “sit” (thanks, CHS foster family!) until it was his turn to enter the field.
The set was completely silent, save for some splashing water bowls and toys squeaking, as representatives from animal welfare groups nationwide and a production crew watched. Some pups got a time out for a nap break or for not sharing toys, and others would rotate in for their chance at gridiron glory. When he got home, Benjamin went up for adoption and quickly found his new home.
Tune in to Puppy Bowl XVI on Animal Planet on Sunday, Feb. 2, at 3 p.m.