Open Thread: PUPPIES! (Sports edition)

Superbowl chat for the rest of us. Andrew Marantz, at the New Yorker (h/t commentor Mnemosyne):

Each year, executives at every television network except one face the same dilemma: what to air during the Super Bowl? Before 2005, Animal Planet usually punted, airing nature documentaries that no one was expected to watch. But Melinda Toporoff, an executive producer, wanted to compete. “I was inspired by the Yule log,” she said. “Something you can just stare at and surrender to.” Her version was the Puppy Bowl.

Toporoff was onto something. Next Sunday, almost nine million viewers—the same number as have clicked on “My Dog Can Talk!” on YouTube—will tune in to Puppy Bowl IX. For every ten Americans who want to watch large men concuss one another, there is one who wants to surrender to cuteness. Beyoncé may be singing on CBS, but the Animal Planet halftime show features a kitten scrimmage, with hedgehog cheerleaders dressed in tutus…

This year, the cast includes sixty-three puppies, twenty-one kittens, and nine baby hedgehogs. There were also dozens of humans, who wrangled, styled, photographed, and cleaned up after the talent. The dogs, all from shelters, were between eight and fifteen weeks old. “We get tons of calls from people wanting to adopt them,” Toporoff said…

The Washington Post has a slideshow, and five pages of behind-the-camera detail:

This year’s new cute element, the hedgehogs, are not very fuzzy. The Puppy Bowl has experimented with hamsters operating a blimp camera, and Meep, a cockatiel who “tweets” sideline commentary. This year they’ll also add a post-game hot tub — who can resist shots of puppies shaking off?…

Once the 90 hours of footage from 15 cameras are pared down and edited together, Animal Planet social media manager Grace Suriel, 29, picks which cute moments will be the most talked-about, so she can tweet them as Meep to build buzz. On game day, she responds to as many fans as possible and retweets their best quips…

Last year, the introduction of Meep earned 21,000 followers in one day. Other than the human Super Bowl, of course, Suriel says, the Puppy Bowl was the most-tweeted event that day — 270,000 tweets — and the subject of four trending topics, beating out “The Voice.” Every year, the Puppy Bowl has broken records on

“It sounds silly to even say this out loud, but it’s so hard to break into cute these days,” says Suriel. “There are so many — between Maru and Boo and all these animal celebrities, it’s crazy.”…

If we still had rotating tag lines, “It’s so hard to break into cute these days” would definitely need to join the lineup.

Apart from setting up for the Big TV parties, what’s on the agenda?

88 replies
  1. 1
    JGabriel says:

    Anne Laurie @ Top:

    If we still had rotating tag lines, “It’s so hard to break into cute these days” would definitely need to join the lineup.



  2. 2

    I love the puppy bowl. And I think that “it’s so hard to break into cute” will be my new tagline.

  3. 3
    Uncle Cosmo says:

    FTR the main Maryland PBS station has been airing “Go Ravens!” PSAs that cut to a still from Downton Abbey (airing at 9 PM Sunday) & remind viewers that they can watch the Super Bowl without regret, as they can still get their DA fix via one of several repeats during the week, even unto the hour immediately preceding the next episode on February 10–“if you can wait that long.”

  4. 4
    Anne Laurie says:



    I’d gladly do so, but it’s up to Cole.

    Who doesn’t answer (or, probably, read) my emails, either.

  5. 5
    mikej(droid) says:

    @JGabriel: I like them but they need to be coded to avoid another db hit. Probably pretty minimal impact if you hardcoded the strings into a php plugin. Maybe I’ll take a crack at it.

  6. 6
    smintheus says:

    What to air during the Super Bowl? Hockey…at least twice the skills at twice the speed…on ice.

  7. 7
    sylvan says:

    what’s on the agenda?

    You need a new tagline.

  8. 8
    MazeDancer says:

    Loved the Washington Post slide show. Also loved reading that all the kittens from the halftime show had been adopted already. (Wonder how many crew members expanded their family that day…)

    Interesting that the kittens and the hedgehogs were more interested in the cameras than the playthings on set. The puppies played so hard some just fell asleep on the field.

  9. 9
    Rosie Outlook says:

    I watch the Super Bowl commercials. When the game comes back on I switch to Puppy Bowl. When there’s a commercial interruption on Puppy Bowl, it’s back to the Super Bowl to wait for the next commercials. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    I hope the Super Bowl has good commercials this year. Last Year’s were lame.

    Question for the well traveled: does the SB air anywhere besides North America?

  10. 10
    Yutsano says:

    Today: overtime shift. Tomorrow: MRI then Vietnamese food with friends. I MIGHT not make it into work come Monday.

  11. 11
    Suffern ACE says:

    Just sitting around, eating pie, waiting for the Fun. concert. Too cold for puppies. What was the word from that rodent from PA on when this will end.

  12. 12
    Gindy51 says:

    @Rosie Outlook: Budweiser has a tearjerker with a horse trainer, baby Clydesdale growing up, and a parade. The baby was born just 7 days prior to the commercial shooting. Have a Kleenex ready.

  13. 13
    gelfling545 says:

    @efgoldman: I recall that my brother & his wife hosted superbowl parties at an absurdly early hour when they lived in Australia so that’s one place.

  14. 14
    jnfr says:



    Also too: Puppy Bowl wins, every time. I’m thinking of making one of my favorite snacks: vienna sausages wrapped in bacon, for my Puppy Bowl snacking. When queso just isn’t enough.

    Also also too: Digby has a lovely bit of behind-the-Puppy-Bowl video posted.

  15. 15
    Redshift says:

    Apart from setting up for the Big TV parties, what’s on the agenda?

    Finding a place with heat to stay for the night (for us and the rabbits.) :-(

    The fan on our furnace decided to die on one of the coldest nights so far this winter. They can’t get a replacement until Monday.

    I think we’ve got it figured out, but it’s awfully inconvenient.

  16. 16
    Redshift says:

    @Suffern ACE:

    What was the word from that rodent from PA on when this will end.

    The Groundhog Cult says the rodent has prophesied an early spring. (A friend who has a place near Punxsy has been there for The Day, and the Cult of Phil is his description.)

  17. 17
    Redshift says:

    @efgoldman: We’ve mostly been lucky. We’ve had it break down on a weekend more than once, but I don’t think we’ve ever had to wait overnight before.

  18. 18
    Rosie Outlook says:

    @efgoldman: I saw that story, too, but since it was old I wondered if it was still true.

  19. 19
    burnspbesq says:

    The only sporting event that matters in my world (Good Blue vs. Evil Blue in women’s basketball) tips off at 10:00 a.m. local time, so I may indulge in a blueberry fritter, but that will be the extent of my inappropriate behavior involving food. I make no representations or warranties of any kind regarding other inappropriate behaviors.

  20. 20
    Rosie Outlook says:

    @Redshift: Well, at least the bunnies have fur.

    Also too (this has nothing to do with rabbits or furnaces), the Maddow blog reports that 27% of Americans believe that God influences the outcome of sporting events, so maybe He made the puppies conk out. I always thought of God as magisterially disengaged from such things (free will), but just in case, a few prayers when you have a big bet on probably wouldn’t hurt.

  21. 21
    Gindy51 says:

    For your viewing pleasure, right from the source:

    For those who are really into dogs, Westminster is next Monday and Tuesday. You can find show times, times for every breed class, who the judges are, etc. They are even having live streaming of each breed class.

    Plus, you are anywhere near Indianapolis this coming weekend, there is a dog show at the Indy Fairgrounds Thursday to Sunday.

  22. 22
    Rosie Outlook says:

    @efgoldman: Are you sure you want to go out on a limb with a daring prediction like that?

    In these parts (Great Lakes region, southern half thereof) we get a lot of snow in February, but it’s not as stubborn as deep winter snow, often melting as fast as it falls.

    As silly as it sounds, I find my Christmas cactus is a good predictor of spring. Usually when it starts putting out new leaves like mad, we’re pretty much through with big winter storms. This seems to hold true even if February has been, as normal around here, pretty cloudy. We had an unusually sunny January this year so I am waiting to see if that will throw the plant off.

  23. 23
    Rosie Outlook says:

    @efgoldman: Maybe he was a dog in his previous life and had a traumatic experience with a rolled-up newspaper in puppyhood.

  24. 24
    Violet says:

    @Redshift: I saw that live on the TV this morning. My goodness, the crowds there to see the groundhog. Crazy!

  25. 25
    Scott S. says:

    As long as it’s an open thread… sci-fi writer John Scalzi is looking to humiliate the eternally noxious Vox Day a little, and raise money for good causes besides…

  26. 26
    Yutsano says:

    @Gindy51: OMG that one was on my Book of Faces! Had to send it to my mom since that’s her favourite Super Bowl commercial. Of course I dropped the not-so-subtle hint that she needs to get her one of those. They are such ADORABLE foals and big gentle babies when they grow up. And yes you can ride them.

  27. 27
    notoriousJRT says:

    Speaking of cute puppies, I’ve been away from the blog all week. Any update on the (maybe) JRT female in need of a home and heartworm treatment?

    Many thanks!

  28. 28
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @burnspbesq: “, he frittered.

  29. 29
    Mnemosyne says:

    In-laws (mother and brother) arrive tomorrow, so we boarded the cats for the day and had Merry Maids do a deep clean. I’m getting up every so often to do a little more decluttering.

    So far as we can tell from the webcam (yes, they provide a webcam), Charlotte and Annie have yet to venture out from their crates. Keaton, meanwhile, is hanging out on one of the cat towers looking at the scenery. (Lower right-hand corner in France, if you’re dying to get a look.)

  30. 30
    22over7 says:

    Gindy51, thanks for the heads-up on Westminster. It’s one of my favorite shows of the year.

    I’m going to a friend’s house, and since he doesn’t have cable, I will miss out on the puppy bowl (sadface). The spouse is going to the noisy bar with golfing buddies (I passed) so not only will he miss out on the puppy bowl, he’ll also miss out on my pulled pork, cole slaw, and devilled eggs.

  31. 31
    JPL says:

    @Mnemosyne: Keaton might be disappointed to return home. Once you visited Paris or something, it’s hard to go back.

  32. 32
    Mnemosyne says:

    For those who are peeking at the webcam (and I know you are, because it’s moving ;-) Annie is in the small brown crate and Charlotte is in the blue one under the window. The neighbors you see peeking through the window are Romeo and Juliet. Juliet is pretty much Annie’s doppelganger, right down to the white front paws.

  33. 33
    Mr Stagger Lee says:

    The famed oak trees at Toomers Corner where Auburn football fans come to celebrate after the Tigers win will be chopped down in the spring. I guess they could not be saved after a crazed Alabama fan spiked them with a massive dose of herbicide
    a couple of years ago, the incident was well documented in the ESPN 30 for 30 documentary Roll Tide/WarEagle.

  34. 34
  35. 35
    Mnemosyne says:


    He seems pretty comfy, doesn’t he? We normally go to the Pasadena Cat House, but they don’t have rooms where one cat family can be all alone, so they would have to put them in large “cat condos” (aka cages) along the wall. Unfortunately, the one thing that freaks Mr. Charm & Personality out is being caged, so we decided to give this branch a try.

    (They need an extra test from the vet to be allowed into group boarding, but I didn’t have a current one for them, so that’s why they needed a private room.)

  36. 36
    22over7 says:

    @Mr Stagger Lee:

    Lord, I hate people sometimes.

    JPL, I felt that way about Maui.

  37. 37
    J. says:

    More about Puppy Bowl IX, including a great College Humor Puppy Bowl parody, here.

  38. 38

    Combination super bowl/birthday party. Going to be tons of kids and an inflatable outdoor screen for the game. I will hardly see any of the game but it will be fun. We are making a fruit salsa with cinnamon chips as a contribution.

  39. 39
    Steeplejack says:


    The puppies played so hard some just fell asleep on the field.

    Ray Lewis did that once. Little-known story.

  40. 40
    muddy says:

    Puppies crazy live at my house, marathon bitey-face game and boxing, punctuated with running in concert and sleeping. They even had a little time for me.

    The older dog, a famously picky eater, attempted to steal the puppy’s supper. It has just been a blur of dogbodies all day.

  41. 41
    Trinity says:

    Ladies and Gentlemen…I give you yet another example of the 27%.

  42. 42
    Maude says:

    There is no information about the Alabama hostage situation being released. The negotiators want things kept quiet.
    It was said that the child is crying for his parents.

  43. 43

    @Rosie Outlook:

    I saw that story, too, but since it was old I wondered if it was still true.

    Why should it change? Countries all over the world have to be faced with the same situation we have, where cable companies are constantly expanding their ability to deliver television and need to find ever more shows to fill the space. In that situation, it’s hard to imagine that something that’s as perfectly designed for TV as the Super Bowl would ever go off the air once it’s on.

  44. 44
    22over7 says:

    Pork is out of the brine and just dry-rubbed. Back in the fridge until late tonight, when it goes in the 200-degree oven for a very, very long time.

  45. 45
    Rosie Outlook says:

    @Scott S.: I found Vox Day’s site while home sick, and he actually has some interesting topics, but damned if I can understand his take on most of them. What’s with the assigning everyone a Greek letter? It reminds me of one of those women’s magazine personality tests where you get sorted into one group or another, but he has no FAQ and so I can’t figure out who gets what letter. Alpha’s at the top, OK, that makes sense, but there is fierce criticism of beta, who should be the next group down. I can’t figure out the ranking.

    He led me to Scalzi, who also has interesting topics. I am not sure that giving my worst enemy Internet traffic is how I would pursue a vendetta. I am probably beta and that’s why I don’t understand.

  46. 46
    jnfr says:


    No dogs. me me me me me.

    Maybe I’ll make some queso too. Mr. Jnfr is on a massive emergency work binge this weekend, so I can go wild.

  47. 47
    Maude says:

    Thank you for saying that about the little boy. It is so heartrending that this is going on.
    I would not want to be a FBI negotiator.

  48. 48
    Maude says:

    I should have said that they aren’t releasing details. They just do a basic.

  49. 49
    jnfr says:

    @Rosie Outlook:

    I think for VD betas are bad because if you can’t be an alpha you are inherently doomed. Then he gets to gammas, which are badder than bad I guess.

    I poked around some of his site, and he actually had an interesting interview with David Frum, but then Frum is not insane.

    Scalzi is very funny, and he writes very smart political commentary.

  50. 50
    JPL says:

    @Maude: I would not want to be the boy’s parents. I read that the whacko was willing to trade the boy for a journalist. If they thought it would help, I’m sure a female black ops journalist would go down.
    edit.. it certainly is possible that what I read is not accurate because I’m sure they are not releasing much info.

  51. 51
    Adam Lang says:

    It’s murder to break into cute these days. I have been running as a daily blog for three years, and I still only have a few hundred unique visitors per day.

  52. 52
    PurpleGirl says:

    The Livestream of the kittens has a chat room that runs along side the livestream. Some people in chat have mentioned Puppy Bowl. I may watch some of it just to see what it is like to be able to talk about it in chat.

  53. 53
    jnfr says:


    Definitely only for special occasions :)

  54. 54

    Jimmy Fallon used The Power of Puppies to predict the Super Bowl.

  55. 55
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Steeplejack: He wasn’t sleeping, he was praying.

  56. 56
    NotMax says:

    Not going to break my perfect record of never having watched nor listened to so much as one second of any Super Bowl.

    Could not care less about investing even a nanogram of energy into an over-hyped spectacle of steroids.


  57. 57
    Maude says:

    No info like that is being released. I read that they won’t allow anyone from the area to come anywhere near the bunker.

  58. 58
    Steeplejack says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    I read that Roethlisberger said Lewis was drooling on him in the dogpile and “making little kitty snoring noises.” But I never saw that confirmed by two different sources.

  59. 59
    Raven says:

    Five hours of tamale makin and haven’t done the vegetarian yet. Amazingly the masa dough and chicken filler ran out at literally the same time. Talk about blind ass luck!

  60. 60
    Rosie Outlook says:

    @jnfr: I bet he has a heck of a time deciding how he feels about the Alpha and the Omega. Grin.

    He and Scalzi are having great fun with their feud, I gathered that much, but I found it pretty boring so mostly skipped it. You know how we betas are.

  61. 61
    Rosie Outlook says:

    @JPL: If true, this sounds like a great opportunity to send down an undercover cop disguised as a journalist.

  62. 62
    quannlace says:

    Having grown up in a Baseball-centric family, Football’s always been a cipher to me.

    So yes, to Puppy Bowl. My favorite- the Water-Bowl Cam.

  63. 63
    eemom says:

    The Onion had a headline last week about two of the puppies being from the same litter. Thanks to my son I actually got the joke.

  64. 64
    Mnemosyne says:


    I find it strangely amusing that Vox Day uses the same descriptor for humans that Werebear uses for cats.

    (Once you said “gamma,” I knew it was the scale from Brave New World. Not surprisingly, Day seems to have missed the entire fucking point of the whole book.)

  65. 65
    WaterGirl says:

    never mind.

  66. 66
    WaterGirl says:

    @jeffreyw: Oh, jeffrey, that one’s a keeper! I don’t think I’ve ever seen that tail before. Is that Homer??

    Also wondering about the new pup. How’s that going?

  67. 67
    Steeplejack says:


    Another after-market tail from the Tunch collection.

    Can they not do color-matching at all?

  68. 68
    jnfr says:

    @Rosie Outlook:

    It is dull, but at least Scalzi is using his attention for good.


    Man, I didn’t catch that all. Too long since I read that book. Off to download a copy.

  69. 69
    WaterGirl says:

    @Maude: Do you have a cliff notes summary for me? It’s so heartbreaking that I haven’t followed it too much. I quit about the time that I read the boy is autistic. That kinda put me over the edge. So he’s in some bunker, and no one can get in to help the boy?

  70. 70
    WaterGirl says:

    @Raven: I had never heard of vegetarian tamales until earlier today. I was talking to the owner of Art Mart (do you remember Art Mart?) and she was talking about cheese & pepper tamales. Chicken, also, too.

    The veggie ones sound interesting to me. What do you put in yours?

  71. 71
    J R in W Va says:



    Isn’t that speled snarkism??

  72. 72
    eemom says:


    I saw on TV earlier this evening that the sick fuck has allowed the FBI agents to get food, meds and coloring books to the child.

    Heartbreaking indeed. I can’t stand it.

  73. 73
    WaterGirl says:

    @eemom: I’m pretty sure I would have gone out of my mind by now if I were the parents.

  74. 74
    Yutsano says:

    Now that the OT shift is over, I’m debating whether to cook or get a pizza. Honestly there are positives and negatives for both options.

  75. 75
    Ken J. says:

    The tradition I miss in Ann Arbor was the Super Bowl Alternative Concert, sponsored by William Bolcom. Bolcom, and other School of Music faculty members, would perform in an informal concert which started at game time. After each piece, a student would silently come on stage with a cardboard sign reporting the current football score.

    My wife and I watched a few of the Puppy Bowls, I think II through IV, and then decided to let it go. It’s a brilliant idea, though.

  76. 76
    WaterGirl says:

    @Yutsano: I’m in the mood for pizza, if that helps.

  77. 77
    Libby's Person says:

    @notoriousJRT: I want to know about that JRT, too. I hope we get an update soon!

    My birthday ‘present’ this year was getting to help a sweet old free-roaming dog and the woman who’s been keeping her alive for years. No money and a tough life, but she loves that old dog and the dog loves her. (The ‘owner’ is absentee, and this woman lives in a housing project that doesn’t allow dogs.) I took them to the vet for shots and badly needed meds and got them both some food. It was the best birthday I’ve had for a while!

  78. 78
    Maude says:

    I’m late back to the thread.
    They are talking to him through a pipe that goes down to the bunker.
    People saw this guy digging this bunker after he bought the property. He hasn’t lived there that long, so he isn’t known.
    I hope that his parents are being lightly sedated.
    I don’t think we’ll know much until it’s over.

  79. 79
    Yutsano says:

    @WaterGirl: I also had a co-worker get me Trader Joe’s naan since he lives right above one, so I’m also considering improvising butter chicken since I have rice made as well. Decisions decisions…

  80. 80
    Rosie Outlook says:

    @Yutsano: You guys are gettingOT? Most of the gov’t has been cut off because of looming sequestration. My agency has people who have worked OT for 25 years and have now been cold turkeyed and are most unhappy. (I am blessed not to need it, so I’m OK.)

  81. 81
    Mnemosyne says:

    Kittehs are home again. If you must watch kitties at the Cat House, Romeo and Juliet are in England.

  82. 82
    Rosie Outlook says:

    @Rosie Outlook: oops, somehow I ended up replying to myself. Never mind.

  83. 83
    WaterGirl says:

    @Yutsano: I LOVE naan.

  84. 84
    Yutsano says:

    @Rosie Outlook: We have a bunch of FTE units going unused because we’re running so fucking short-staffed. And not everyone does the OT so it gets spread even more throughout the year. It also helps that what we do while on OT my office happens to get much more done than others around the country so we get more if we ask for it. It still sucks cause I’d rather have a full staff. Damn hiring freeze.

  85. 85
    Rosie Outlook says:

    @Libby’s Person: You’re a wonderful person.

  86. 86
    Rosie Outlook says:

    @Yutsano: It’s awful and only going to get worse; not only the hiring freezes but temps and terms are being laid off.

  87. 87
    redshirt says:

    @efgoldman: LePage is awesome! But wait! 2014 is setting up as another 3 way Governor’s race, which is what got him elected in 2010.

    However, I don’t think the progressive voters of Maine will allow him to ooze into the Governorship again. I hope! He’s widely reviled, yet without about 35% approval – enough to win a 3 way race.

  88. 88
    mainmati says:

    @Rosie Outlook: Yes, I have worked and lived overseas a lot. Armed Forces Radio & Television Network (AFRTN) carries it, as you can imagine and so do many American Embassy social clubs. Also, in some countries with American expatriates and locals who have lived in the USA they may have sports bars that carry the Stupor Bowl. It’s not uncommon anymore but, of course, English Premier League is far more common.

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