As even the most sports-phobic folks are aware, Feb. 4 is Super Bowl Sunday—the day we set aside to eat our weight in chicken wings and to watch the two best teams in football challenge one another on the gridiron. This year, the New England Patriots are back for the umpteenth time, and everybody is a little sick of seeing Tom Brady’s handsome face on TV. Sensing a cultural shift—fueled by franchise fatigue, growing concern over chronic traumatic encephalopathy and that whole National Anthem kerfuffle—Animal Planet is poised to gobble up the holiday like a puppy on a carelessly dropped Cheeto.
Since 2005 Animal Planet’s “Puppy Bowl” has served as alternate programming to the year’s biggest sporting event. It has grown from a simple halftime channel-flip to a day-long, dog-pun-filled celebration. This year Animal Planet will be offering up puppy programming from 4am until midnight, making the NFL’s hype seem positively quaint by comparison.
Crazy animal lovers need to dive deep into their William Wegman’s Weimaraners-loving, Pound Puppy-collecting, dogtime.com-surfing psychoses to endure this 20-hour onslaught of fuzzy cuteness. But if you think you’re the kind of person who can’t get enough of puppers, woofers, yappers and floofers, set your alarm clocks and get ready to O.D. on doggos.
It all starts bright and (super) early on Sunday, Feb. 4, with “Super Animal Commercials” (Animal Planet 4am). Former NFL player Terry Crews hosts this collection of beloved animal-based TV commercials from Super Bowls past. That’s followed by “Too Cute! For Puppy Bowl” (Animal Planet 5am), a look at various loser pets who did not make the Puppy Bowl cut. “Puppy Bowl XIV Presents: We Love Puppies” (Animal Planet 6am) features a panel of guests explaining “what makes puppies so irresistibly adorable.” In contrast (just kidding), “Puppy Bowl XIV Presents: Cute as Fluff” (Animal Planet 7am) is a glimpse at “some of the fluffiest, cuddliest and overall most adorable animals out there.” “Puppy Bowl XIV Presents: Where Are They Now?” (Animal Planet 8am) checks in on participants of past Puppy Bowls, examining their new lives after finding a “forever home.” With “Puppy Bowl XIV Presents: Countdown to Puppy Bowl” (Animal Planet 9am) Dan the Ref (in his seventh year wrangling dachshunds on the field) takes viewers on a journey back through Puppy Bowl’s most memorable moments. “Puppy Bowl XIV Presents: The Dog Bowl” (Animal Planet 10am) abandons puppies, briefly, to highlight older rescue dogs. “Puppy Bowl XIV Presents: Training Camp Confidential” (Animal Planet 11am) purports to show how the tiny pups get in shape for the Puppy Bowl. Spoiler alert: They don’t. It’s not a real game. “Puppy Bowl XIV Pre-Game Show” (Animal Planet 12pm) offers up the inside scoop on this year’s crop of canine players, including “exclusive interviews from the locker rooms”—you know, in case you wanna place any last-minute bets on the game.
“Puppy Bowl XIV—Pup-triots vs. B-eagles” (Animal Planet 1pm) finally gets underway with “more puppies, more rescues and a brand-new bone-shaped stadium.” That’s followed by “Puppy Bowl XIV—Ruff vs. Fluff” (Animal Planet 4:10pm) and “Puppy Bowl XIV—Ruff vs. Fluff: The Rematch” (Animal Planet 6:12pm)—all of which could be the exact same two-hour loop of dogs running around a tiny, fake football stadium. Or not. If you’re crazy enough to care, go ahead and find out for yourself.