RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — The highlight of Super Bowl Sunday for millions has nothing to do with football. Puppy Bowl XI will play on Animal Planet, and this year there is a Richmonder in the starting lineup.
Pepper lets out a few barks, trying to be ferocious, but she is more cuddly. She has on her game face, showing what it takes to be a star.
“I know a lot of people are football fans. I’m more excited about the Puppy Bowl,” says Hannah Abbott, Pepper’s human mom.
Pepper is a BoShih, a Boston Terrier and Shih Tzu mix. In October, the then 16-week-old pup left her Museum District home and made the trip to New York City to try out for the animal event of the year.
“She got to stay in a hotel with us and we took her to Times Square and we took her to Central Park and, of course, we had Saturday for filming,” Abbott describes the whirlwind trip.
When she learned Pepper made the cut, she knew it was about more than the game. “It’s really exciting, I just think it’s awesome. It promotes rescue and adoption.”
Abbott and her boyfriend adopted Pepper from Sanctuary Rescue in Midlothian, where the tiny dog and her littermates got a second chance. They had been part of a Craigslist post in South Carolina when they were too young to be on their own.
“It’s really amazing when you can adopt one and give one a home that doesn’t have one,” explains Abbott. “It feels really, really rewarding to do so.”
Abbott says the Puppy Bowl is a fun way to celebrate adoption. She won’t say much about Pepper’s performance but hints at a friendship on the field. “A puppy named Lewis came in and she loved that puppy and they played the whole time.”
Representing Team Fluff, Pepper will get her time to shine in the big league. “Ten years down the road we’ll always remember that she was a little Puppy Bowl puppy.” says Abbott giving Pepper a loving squeeze. “It’s how she started.”
Sanctuary Rescue actually submitted Pepper’s picture to the Puppy Bowl before she was adopted, so this appearance has been in the works since the Summer. You can catch Pepper and the Puppy Bowl at 3 p.m. Sunday on Animal Planet.