Charlotte Triggs
February 01, 2018 12:26 PM

Animal Planet’s Puppy Bowl airs this Sunday ahead of that other big game. And while everyone is always excited to watch the serious cuteness on the field, there’s more to the show than just Team Ruff and Team Fluff: all of the puppies are rescues, and by the time the show airs several months after filming, most have been adopted.

One such lucky dog was Trooper, who found himself going home with PEOPLE Senior Editor Charlotte Triggs after the 2018 taping. Here, Triggs tells Trooper’s story.

When people hear I adopted a second dog five months after having twin girls — that would be baby Nos. 2 and 3, since I also have a 3-year-old — the reaction I usually get is, “What, you didn’t already have enough going on?”

Well, I guess not! It’s true: I now have five mouths to feed (and seven faces I have to get to look into the camera if I want a family picture). But once I learned of the opportunity to adopt a Chihuahua puppy from the Puppy Bowl last Oct. 17, my husband Freddy Montero and I knew we had to do it.

We had always had two dogs — a pair of Chihuahuas, Angie and Lucky. But one year earlier, Angie tragically died after a yearlong neurological illness — on what happened to be my daughter Tatjana’s 2nd birthday. The loss was totally devastating, and since I was expecting twins, we resigned ourselves to the idea that we had one dog — and enough else going on — that we shouldn’t think about replacing her.

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But after almost a year, Freddy mentioned wanting to check out a pet adoption event in New Jersey, and we planned to go see if they might have a Chihuahua available. The next day, my colleague Emily Strohm happened to invite me to tag along to the taping of the Puppy Bowl in New York City, which she would be covering mostly, she said, so she could play with the puppies. She also told me something interesting: all of the animals there are rescue animals — and all of them are available to be adopted.

Right then I knew it was fate.

Charlotte Triggs

After consulting the network representatives, we learned there were 12 Chihuahuas competing. And Discovery’s head of public relations, Laurie Goldberg, got busy working on finding one still available to be adopted.

The next morning, Goldberg introduced me to Trooper, a 3-month-old Chihuahua mix from Cindy Evers’ Planned Pethood Rescue in Zephyrhills, Florida, a shelter specializing in low-cost spaying and neutering services. Trooper, the only puppy to survive his litter, was a tiny, 3-lbs. version of Lucky — and immediately snuggled up to me. Goldberg helped me through the adoption process (I call her the Fairy Dogmother, since she also connected my colleague Kate Coyne with a Puppy Bowl dog the year prior), and Trooper came home with me that day, just in time for Tati’s 3rd birthday.

Tatjana was ecstatic to meet “new puppy” and I was ecstatic to finally meet a Chihuahua that actually likes to cuddle with a little kid.

Charlotte Triggs

Yes, I introduced an X-factor into the household when I had just gotten the hang of the whole twins thing. (What kind of dog poops on the couch? This one!) But Trooper filled a void that had been left behind by Angie, and based on the reactions I saw from Tati, my husband and even Lucky, I could tell it was the right decision.

Catch Puppy Bowl this Sunday, Feb. 4, at 3 p.m. ET on Animal Planet.

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