This year’s ‘Puppy Bowl’ includes adoptable, special needs dogs as their star players

With the teams now set for Super Bowl LVI, people across the US are getting psyched for the big game on February 13.

But for animal lovers, there’s another sporting event just as exciting: the Puppy Bowl. The annual event, which airs on Animal Planet, is a lighthearted, animal-centric parody of the Super Bowl, and doubles as a way to showcase rescue dogs by featuring them as the star “athletes.”

The event has been an annual tradition since 2005, and this year’s Puppy Bowl XVIII will air just before the NFL game, airing on Animal Planet and discovery+ starting at 2 pm ET (with a pre-game special airing right before).

Returning as hosts are TV’s biggest pair of unlikely BFFs, homemaking icon Martha Stewart and rap star Snoop Dogg.

“I’m so excited that Snoop and I are back to kick off Puppy Bowl XVIII, and help a bunch of deserving pups find their forever homes!” Martha Stewart said in a press release.

The stars will also be coaching the two teams of puppies, Team Fluff and Team Ruff.

The games will feature over 115 adoptable rescue puppies. And making things even more inspiring, many of the dogs are also special needs dogs.

Dogs with differences and disabilities can have an even harder time getting adopted, so casting a spotlight on these special dogs is especially important.

Despite being a little different, these dogs are set to give them all at the big game.

The dogs include Moby, a French bulldog with a cleft palate who was surrendered to Harley’s Haven Dog Rescue in Perkasie, Pennsylvania. He’ll be playing for Team Ruff.

We are excited to share that Harley's Haven alumni Mobius (aka Moby), our cleft palate puppy, was drafted to participate…

Posted by Harley's Haven Dog Rescue on Monday, January 10, 2022

“He may look sweet, but he’s got an intimidating stare-down!” the rescue wrote on Facebook.

On the opposing team is Benny, a poodle from Bosley’s Place in Smyrna, Georgia.

A birth defect left Benny with only two working legs, but that’s not gonna stop him from taking to the playing field next Sunday.

“That does not mean he’s intimidated by other pups. I can tell you that!” Benny’s Puppy Bowl bio reads.

❤️🐶🎉 THANK YOU FOR VOTING! 🎉🐶❤️Thank you so much for your continued support for Benny! This boy-who-spreads-joy…

Posted by Bosley's Place Inc. on Wednesday, February 2, 2022

One of Benny’s teammates has a similar case: Irwin, from The Sato Project, was hit by a car and “left to die” on the streets of Puerto Rico, and was left “shut down and emotionally traumatized,” the Sato Project writes.

One of his legs had to be amputated after the accident, but this dog has been thriving on three legs. Now, he’s set to become a star.

“[Irwin] is living an amazing life as the star he was born to be,” the Sato Project wrote. “We can’t wait to see him on the big screen for the #puppybowl, representing all the love, hope, and strength of The Sato Project community!”

Other dogs with special needs include hearing-impaired dog Ridley, Forrest, a dog who lost one of his eyes from an abusive former home, and Bimini, who has a neurological condition called cerebellar hypoplasia which affects her mobility.

We can’t wait to see these very special dogs have their starring moment at the Puppy Bowl! We hope they and the dozens of other adoptable dogs are able to find homes — they’re all MVPs!

Are you planning to watch the Puppy Bowl this year? Share this story to spread the word!

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