Pet lovers, rejoice: After 14 years of puppies, the first-ever Dog Bowl is coming to Animal Planet.
On Wednesday, The Wrap reported the exciting news about this new viewing event to be televised as part of the Road to Puppy Bowl XIV lineup. The program has been a passion project of Animal Planet’s general manager, Patrice Andrews, and will feature adult football-playing dogs from rescues and shelters, who are often passed over for adoption in favor of younger furballs.
PEOPLE spoke with Simon Morris, the executive producer of Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl, to learn more about this paw-some new special.
“The shelters around the country that we work with for Puppy Bowl were often talking to us about the great need for adult and senior dogs to find homes, and how much harder it is for them to secure adopters for these dogs versus puppies,” Morris told PEOPLE. “We wanted to respond to this need and spread the adoption message wider. We also wanted to highlight that older dogs are often easier pets to take care of than puppies, being already house trained, and having their temperaments already tried and tested.”
Puppy Bowl Presents: The Dog Bowl will be similar to its puppy predecessor in that there will be two teams going muzzle to muzzle, and all dogs will end up being adopted out to forever homes.
“We’re working very closely with the American Humane Association and the shelters who are bringing dog players, to ensure that the dogs participating in the Dog Bowl will get on well with each other,” said Morris. “Shelters are bringing groups of dogs who have socialized harmoniously prior to the game, and we’ll keep those same groups of dogs together on the field for game play.”
Aww. So, are there any doggos we should keep an eye on in particular?
Morris said, “We’ll be featuring a pit bull player who’s been one of the longest term residents at his shelter, waiting to find his forever home. We’re confident that he’ll find his adopters after appearing on the Dog Bowl gridiron, with Puppy Bowl‘s 100 percent adoption rate!”
“We’re also featuring a dog who’s in training to be a service dog for military veterans returning home with physical disabilities and emotional challenges,” Morris added. Additionally, Morris told us that the show’s host, Jill Rappaport, will bring her own “senior wiener” into the mix. Rubie, a rescue dachshund, will join his mom as a sidekick correspondent and promises to wow the crowds with some “impressive dance moves.”
Longtime Puppy Bowl fans are also advised Dog Bowl will include a Hall of Fame feature, where star veterans from past Puppy Bowl specials will be welcomed back on the field to relive “their moments of grid iron glory.”