Are you as excited as I am about the big game on Sunday, Feb. 13? That’s right, Puppy Bowl is back for its 18th year. If you’re planning to watch that other game with the two-legged players instead (go Rams!) but don’t want to miss out on adorable dogs, look for heartwarming commercials featuring actual and robotic canines.
Here’s a Super Sunday TV viewing guide for us dog lovers.
Puppy Bowl XVIII
More than 100 ridiculously cute puppies from shelters in 33 states will be joining Team Ruff or Team Fluff in Puppy Bowl XVIII. It’s the biggest lineup in the history of this competition.
Among this year’s rather interesting competitors are Wes (Team Fluff), a Chihuahua/Golden Retriever mix (!), Tayce (Team Ruff), a Chihuahua/Siberian Husky mix (!!) and Rob Gonchowski (Team Fluff), a Dachshund/American Pit Bull Terrier mix (!!!).
In addition to their hosting duties, this year Martha Stewart and Snoop Dogg will be coaching the furry young athletes. Snoop Dogg, by the way, is also scheduled to perform during the Super Bowl halftime show. He sure gets around! “I’m honored to be co-hosting the only sporting event on the planet guaranteed to raise the ‘woof,’ with the magnificent Martha Stewart!” he says.
No matter which team ends up winning the Lombarky Trophy, all the players are winners, and most have already been adopted into forever homes. But there are plenty of just-as-cute puppies waiting for you at your local shelter! Visit PuppyBowl.com/adopt for information about the shelters and rescue organizations that provided pups for this year’s game.
Puppy Bowl XVIII airs Feb. 13 at 2 p.m. Eastern Time/11 a.m. Pacific Time on Animal Planet. It will also stream on discovery+.
Super Bowl Commercials Featuring Real and Unreal Dogs
Budweiser Brings Back the Puppy
You may remember back in 2015 when Budweiser’s Super Bowl commercial featured not only the beautiful Clydesdale horses but also an adorable “lost” puppy. Unfortunately, that ad apparently sold more Kleenex than Bud, so the company announced in 2016 that it was taking a new creative direction and would no longer feature puppies in its commercials.
Seven years later, Budweiser has come to its senses and will once again air a commercial featuring an adorable puppy during this year’s Super Bowl. The spot, titled “A Clydesdale’s Journey,” is directed by Chloé Zhao, who won an Academy Award and many other honors last year for directing “Nomadland.”
In the ad, a Yellow Labrador puppy starts barking when a Clydesdale falls down and is injured after tripping on a barbed-wire fence. After the horse is nursed back to health by a stable hand and veterinary nurse (who also nurse Budweisers, naturally), the puppy and Clydesdale are joyfully reunited.
Grab a tissue or 10: Here’s the 60-second version of the commercial. A shortened 30-second version will air during the Super Bowl.
Kia Introduces a Cute Robot Dog
more as adorable than a real, live dog? An unreal robot dog, maybe?
In the “Robo Dog” commercial for the new, all-electric Kia KV, a robot dog in an electronics store sadly gazes out the window at a man petting a real dog. But then he sees another man unplug his Kia KV from a charging station and gets his artificial hopes up.
As the Bonnie Tyler song “Total Eclipse of the Heart” plays — which seems kind of cruel since robots don’t actually have hearts — Robo Dog chases after the man of his dreams. Its battery begins to die, but never fear: a happy and, uh, electrifying ending is in store.
In the not-too-distant future, could robot dogs become as popular as the real thing? Interestingly, in a TODAY poll asking whether you’d consider owning a robotic pet, the results are equally divided between “Sure, why not?” and “No, there are too many animals in need of homes.” For now at least, my vote is a definite NO.
Instead of piquing interest in robot dogs, Kia is hoping its commercial encourages people to adopt real dogs. In partnership with the Petfinder Foundation, Kia has launched the Robo Dogmented Reality app. By scanning a QR code on a mobile device, users can see Robo Dog in their own homes to get an idea of what having a real pet would be like.
Here’s the commercial. Be sure to give your real dog a hug while you watch it.
Happy Super Sunday!
Photo: discovery plus/YouTube