Puppy Bowl pre-game: pamper your pet

Super Bowl weekend isn't just about football: in recent years, Animal Planet's Puppy Bowl has become a popular alternative for animals and their human counterparts. Check out how to treat your pet to a Puppy Bowl party.

Mark Von Holden/File/AP
Atmosphere at the Puppy Bowl X at the Discovery Times Square Experience in New York on Tuesday, Jan. 28, 2014.

For the last 10 years, Animal Planet has been counter-programming the biggest football game of the year with the cutest football game of the year. If you've never seen The Puppy Bowl, you can check out highlights from last year's game, but the premise is simple: Build a miniature stadium and fill it with puppies and chew-toys. Turn on the cameras and watch a panoply of adorbs unfold. This year 38 baby dogs will romp around while a parakeet "reports" from the sidelines via twitter (@MeepTheBird). Breaking up the "play" is a kitten halftime show headlined by Keyboard Cat (!) who will be playing Bruno Mars' "Locked Out of Heaven" (!). During this show, 29 baby cats will take the field and be aww-inspiringly cute. This year, we've also been promised penguin cheerleaders (!) and special appearances by Lil Bub (!). Folks, outside the finale of Twin Peaks, this is quite possibly the most bizarre moment on broadcast television that you will ever see.

But half of the fun of a Super Bowl party — or any football or sports party — is the tailgating experience. (Nope. NOT making a TAILgating joke. Nuh-uh.) You know, the food, the fun, the be-costumed and face-painted zaniness! But how exactly does one tailgate for the Puppy Bowl? Let's find out together!


There's always one weirdo who shows up for a football game in a clown wig and face and/or body paint, so why should your pets be exempt from all the dress-up hilarity that we seem to equate with cheering on our team? We won't suggest painting your dog (it'll probably be a nightmare to clean out of its fur), but costumes are equally as fun. In fact, this Cheerleader Dog Costume ($15.99 with free shipping via Amazon Prime, a low by $3) is also harmless on your wallet. (Though, the harm it may cause to your dog's mental health is only something that you and your licensed pet psychologist can determine.)

If you want your dog to exude a "tougher" image, this Football Star Dog Costume ($10.59 with free shipping via Amazon Prime, a low by $3) might be a better fit. However, after staring at it for a while, we're not sure dressing up your dog in any costume will make the poor thing look any tougher.

You can also choose to break gender stereotypes and dress your male dog as the cheerleader and a female dog as the football player. You'll not only be creating hilarious Instagrams, but striking a blow for gender equality!

But you should probably avoid dressing your dog in this Anit Accessories Football Costume ($27.26 with $6.99 s&h, a low by $15) if there are real football fans around — ones who might have been drinking and enjoying the Super Bowl a bit too much. A rush of excitement might see little Spot get accidentally punted into the neighbor's yard.


Pro tip: Serve all your human Super Bowl food in dog bowls to add an extra level of "doggy-ness" to the day. What? You say that's gross?! How is that gross? You make your dog eat — and drink — from one every day of the year, the least you could do is commiserate this one time!

But what will you be serving? You can't just start grilling up real hot dogs and sausages for your pets; they'll get notions above their station. Feed them a hotdog straight from the grill once and the next thing you know they'll be begging for food directly from your dinner table ... and then they're answering the phone and pretending they're you, maybe even dressing up in your clothes and hitting on your wife. You can avoid all those unwanted possibilities by simply stocking up on foods that almost, but not quite, resemble tailgating fare.

Might we suggest you pick up a mess 'o Snausages Beef & Cheese Flavor Dog Treats 25-oz. Bag ($4.46 with in-store pickup at Walmart, a low by $5)? Those should be "close enough for jazz" — especially if "Jazz" is the name of your pooch. (In honor of the Autobot, right?) As for drinks, instead of a margarita (don't deny it, we've seen you sports-types tote along a car-adapted margarita machine to the game), get your pup some Mr. Barksmith's Cool Treats Smoothies ($10.99 with $2.95 s&h, a low by $4). Yes: DOG SMOOTHIES. Just don't spike them with tequila unless you want a) PETA coming down on you like a ton of bricks or b) a dead pet. Harsh realities. Oh, and take our word for it that they do not taste anything like the real things, OK?

Sports Paraphernalia

We're told that during a real tailgate party, folks usually bring a football or frisbee to toss around. The revelers get to throw the 'ole pigskin amongst themselves and pretend that they are [insert famous player's name here]. We'll bet that your dog would also like to mess around with a football-shaped object before the Puppy Bowl pretending Spot is [insert name of famous dog football player here].

Of course, instead of catching it and spiking it to the ground, your dog will: catch it, throttle it a bit, possibly mangle it, then either drop it yards away from you (forcing you to go get it so you can repeat the process), or he'll bring it back to you but refuse to hand it over causing a tug-of war and resulting in a ruined football and drool everywhere. (Man, why do we like dogs? They sound like such jerks!)

So we'd recommend just getting the cheapest football-shaped object you can, like this Westminster Pet 20037 Vinyl Dog Toy ($2.29 with $1.51 s&h, a low by $6). Sure, it looks more like a Katamari head than a sports implement, but due to the reasons outlined above it doesn't really matter, does it?

Lastly, you'll want to make sure that you have a second TV, so you can tune in to the "real" ball game that's on at the same time. Switch back and forth? Right! You just try and take the remote away from your 100-lb. Rottweiler who's way into the Puppy Bowl!

Jeff Somogyi is the Media Editor for DealNews, where this article originally appeared: http://dealnews.com/features/Tailgating-for-the-Puppy-Bowl-Pun-Intended-/960216.html

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