Forget football—dog lovers know that Sunday, February 5, is all about the Puppy Bowl. For the uninitiated, the annual television event airs on Animal Planet on the day of the Super Bowl, and features dozens of adorable shelter dogs tussling and tearing their way through a model stadium. This year, USA Today reports, the show's producers were looking to add a little diversity to the mix, and recruited three canines with disabilities to compete on the field.
Lucky is a rangy, dark-furred Terrier mix with an amputated leg. Doobert, an English Pointer, is hearing-impaired, so caretakers trained him to understand hand signals on the turf. And Winston is a fluffy Australian Shepherd with both vision and hearing impairments. He requires special monitoring, but officials say he relies on his keen sense of smell.
In total, 78 puppies—including Lucky, Doobert, and Winston—participated in this year’s Puppy Bowl, which was filmed in October. According to USA Today, the game features the largest representation of canines with disabilities to ever “compete” in the event.
This year's lineup of pups came from 34 rescue organizations from across the U.S., and all of them were in need of forever homes. Several of them have already been adopted.
Dogs with disabilities are "just like any other dogs—they just have certain aspects of them that are special," Tiffany Gaylon, founder of the Tennessee-based nonprofit Operation Education Animal Rescue and Lucky's Puppy Bowl caretaker, told USA Today.
Animal Planet's 13th annual Puppy Bowl airs on February 5 at 3 p.m. ET. Watch a sneak peek of the action below, courtesy of Buzz60. To get a glimpse of the full lineup, visit Animal Planet's website.
[h/t USA Today]