Before the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos kick off the Super Bowl on Sunday, two Eastern Iowa puppies will get their chance to take the field - in the Animal Planet Puppy Bowl.
Siberian husky Suri and German shepherd mix Cici, both from Last Hope Animal Rescue, will star on the televised event. Last Hope Animal Rescue has a network of animal foster families around Cedar Rapids and a shelter in Shellsburg.
The Puppy Bowl, which starts at 2 p.m., features dozens of puppies running, jumping, wrestling and playing in “Animal Planet Stadium.” The cute canines are joined by kitten halftime entertainment and “sideline reporter” Meep the Bird.
“It’s just a really fun, kind of silly event as an alternative to the Super Bowl,” said Last Hope Animal Rescue volunteer Carl Bromberg. “Not everybody is into football.”
Bromberg and a few other volunteers traveled with Suri and Cici to New York in October to film the show after Animal Planet liked a photo of Suri the shelter submitted.
Bromberg has since adopted Suri, and Cici has also found a home. But Last Hope Animal Rescue, which often takes animals from shelters that would otherwise euthanize them, has about 80 to 90 dogs and 10 cats waiting for adoption.
Those interested in adopting from Last Hope can look at available pets via Petfinder. Visits to the Shellsburg shelter are by appointment, which can be made by calling (319) 573-4444. The shelter is also looking for foster families to take in rescued animals.
The Animal Bowl is a great way to raise awareness for organizations like Last Hope, Bromberg said.
“The really cool thing is every dog is either from a rescue or a shelter,” he said.
Last Hope will host a free Puppy Bowl watch party, beginning at 1 p.m. Sunday at Shuey’s Restaurant & Lounge, 1158 Club Road, Shueyville. Attendees can get their picture taken with Suri and Cici, enjoy a free sundae bar and cake, bid on silent auction items and enter drawings for door prizes. People can bring their own dogs and compete for best football dog costume.
The Puppy Bowl will also feature several other Iowa puppies, including Taser, an Italian Greyhound recently adopted by a Des Moines family from Romp Italian Greyhound Rescue in Chicago. AHeinz57 Pet Rescue and Transport of Des Moines also sent five puppies to the Puppy Bowl. They are Cody the spaniel, Opie the schnauzer/terrier mix, Farkle the mastiff, Jack the German shepherd/husky mix and Rudy, a schnauzer/terrier mix.
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