Hoffman's Houston
go dawn!

Tiny Houston superstar steals the national spotlight at Puppy Bowl 15

Tiny Houston superstar steals the national spotlight at Puppy Bowl 15

Houston puppy Puppy Bowl 15 Dawn Ken Hoffman
Meet Dawn, the Houston pup who's taking the field in Puppy Bowl 15.  Photo courtesy of Citizens for Animal Protection

The Bayou City has a reputation for producing great athletes, and this Sunday, February 3, another young Houston star will make headlines in the “Big Game.”

Not the Super Bowl — we’re talking about the Puppy Bowl, the cutest sporting event of the year. About 100 puppies, from shelters across the U.S., Costa Rica, and Puerto Rico, will showcase their skills in a 19-by-10-foot “stadium” made from Plexiglass and artificial grass.

Puppy Bowl 15 will air at 2 pm on Animal Planet. An audience of about 12 million people is expected Sunday. It’s odd, it’s weird, it’s pure fun and, aw, who doesn’t love puppies?

Houston hopeful
Dawn, a 5-pound Dachshund-Chihuahua pup, will be repping Houston this year. She is the only player from Texas. I don’t support betting on sports — too many lives and families are ruined by gambling addiction. But if you have some money burning a hole in your pocket, think about putting some presidential portraits on Dawn to score the first touchdown Sunday.

(Let’s keep this to ourselves, the Puppy Bowl was filmed back in October, and Dawn was first to drag a football-shaped dog toy across the goal line. Go Dawn girl!)

Not only did Dawn crack the starting lineup for Team Fluff, she will be featured in an up close and personal feature during the game. Team Fluff is going for a threepeat this year. They beat Team Ruff by 93-38 in 2016, and 52-47 last year. Vegas has Team Fluff favored to win by 7 points and hoist the prestigious “Lombarky Trophy.”

Dawn was found roaming the streets, alone and trembling, last September. She was just 4 weeks old and weighed less than 3 pounds. She was taken to Citizens for Animal Protection, home base for my Pet of the Week feature. Dawn now has a forever home, another CAP happily ever after story.

“This is the fourth year that CAP has a player in the game, so we’ve got a good start on this being a fantastic tradition,” says CAP official Bianca Burrascano. “Each year we submit photos of a couple of puppies as nominations to participate. Then we wait on the edge of our seats to see who they pick. Dawn also has a separate feature that shows off her great temperament and affinity for dressing up in fancy outfits.”

Free puppies!
To celebrate the Puppy Bowl, CAP will waive all fees for adoptions from 11 am to 6 pm Sunday. West Houston Subaru is picking up the tab for all adoptions, including cats and bunnies, and everything else. The Puppy Bowl uses football as a hook, but it’s really a fun way of presenting the plight of homeless dogs, and encouraging people to “adopt not shop” for pets.

And progress is being made. In 2011, about 2.6 million shelter dogs were euthanized. By 2017, that number had dropped to 1.5 million.

Puppies must be between 12 and 21 weeks old. They’re placed in the stadium, where they find treats and dog toys shaped like footballs. Ten cameras pick up the action. Secret: some of the cameras have peanut butter on the lens for “kiss cam” closeups. The Puppy Bowl is filmed over three days, with pups subbed in and out every 10 minutes.

No blown calls here
Puppies will be puppies, and accidents do occur, but don’t worry about this turning into a Pooper Bowl. Scenes with elimination are eliminated before airing. Viewers will not see penalties for “premature watering of the field” or “excessive fertilization.” However, “paws interference” will be called. The Puppy Bowl will not have a repeat of the Rams-Saints non-call.


Cheer on Houston pup Dawn during Puppy Bowl 15 at 2pm on Animal Planet.