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‘Puppy Bowl’ Turns 20: What It Takes to Pull Off TV’s Cutest Match-Up

Everything’s ready for the big game this Sunday: treats, poop bags, pee pads and all. No, not that game. The Puppy Bowl is back again for its 20th year, featuring sports’ most revered face-off between Team Ruff and Team Fluff.

It takes a small village to pull off the match-up, with 120 crew members and 132 volunteers, including representatives from animal shelters. “Puppy Bowl XX” features 131 puppy players from 73 different rescues.

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And all those pups require quite a bit of tender loving care during the multi-day shoot in Glen Falls, N.Y. This year’s game used 600 pee pads, 200 toys, 30 water bowls, 10 bags of treats and 200 poop bags.

At the heart of the action is ruff-eree Dan Schachner, who’s had the cutest gig in show business for the last 13 years. He can’t believe how much the annual event has grown during that time. “The amount of adoptable puppies we have every year has more than doubled since I started,” he tells Variety. “There are more cameras than ever, more angles, more video packages that show the pups’ backstories and a bigger stadium set as well.”

In the Puppy Bowl’s two decades, there have been 1,429 puppy players and about 600 different rescues represented. Schachner says organizations are eager to participate because of the spotlight that the event can shine on their adoptable animals.

“They all report an increase in adoptions after being on ‘Puppy Bowl’ and the local and national press they receive increases awareness for their organizations exponentially,” he says. “It all helps with not only adoptions, but volunteers, fosters and donations.”

Not all of this year’s pups have been adopted yet, but Schachner expects that all the pups will have fur-ever homes by the time the game airs: “Peanut Pretzel from the Pug Queen in Los Angeles and Dash from Florida Little Dog in Orlando are still looking for a home. But all of these rescues have so many puppies, as well as older dogs, who need families.”

This year’s game features some star players competing for the coveted Lombarky Trophy. “Look out for the pugs,” Schachner says. “Francine the Pug and Peanut Pretzel the Pug have a lot of energy. Patrick Mabones, Bark Purdy and Levi the Great Dane make quite the impression!”

“Puppy Bowl XX” airs this Sunday at 2 p.m. ET / 11 a.m. PT on Animal Planet, Discovery, TBS, TruTV, Discovery+ and Max.

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