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A most adorable athlete is pictured on the field during last year's inaugural Puppy Bowl at Meadowlake Pet Resort and Training Center.

Image: Amber Tong

Do you love puppies? If the answer is ‘no,’ you might want to walk away from your screen and reevaluate your life. 

Great. Now that only the sane readers remain, we’ll continue. Houstonia is officially billing the events of next Saturday, February 3 as the cutest sporting event of all time: Meadowlake Pet Resort and Training Center’s second annual Puppy Bowl.

On game day, 25 puppies ages six months or younger (!!!) will face off on the field, toppling and tumbling to their hearts’ desire as they gnaw on football toys and generally look adorable, just like they did last year. JJ Watt, eat your heart out.

There’s no actual strategy for these puppy players, but it sounds about 100 times more interesting to watch than real football if you ask us.

“Of course, if they happen to have a football toy in their mouth and go into the end zone, we all go crazy,” said Laura Koch, Meadowlake’s executive manager. “Of course, we’ll call it a touchdown … but really it’s just a bunch of adorable puppies running around and playing with each other.”

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A Meadowlake ref makes an undoubtedly tough call.

Image: Amber Tong

Naturally, Meadowlake trainers assigned to supervise the teams will be dressed in referee uniforms. But if ruff-housing (get it?) ensues—as it’s bound to—who could possibly call a penalty on all that cuteness?

That’s part of the reason eligibility is limited by age, Koch said, as puppies have different play styles after six months. For some of these competitors, it will be their first time socializing with other pups–a critical learning experience for growing dogs, especially puppies separated from their mothers, who would otherwise teach their young the boundaries of socialization.

“Canines are social animals naturally, that is something that they typically crave,” Koch explained. “If they don’t get that socialization early on, they’re not going to understand how to communicate with [other] dogs.”

In that way, puppies are much like toddlers, learning by experience what’s appropriate playground behavior and what won’t fly.

“Unless they’re actually in that environment on a semi-regular basis, then they’re not going to learn good socialization, and you’ll end up with a dog that is either fearful or inappropriate or [exhibits] a variety of different odd behavior issues.”

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What a play!!!

Image: Amber Tong

Regular socialization is a benefit doggy daycares like Meadowlake offer customers, but Puppy Bowl participation is not limited to Meadowlake clients. The 25 spots are open to any pup within the age range with proof of up-to-date vaccinations. It’s free to enter, and dogs don’t have to be spayed or neutered yet.

When we spoke with Koch last week, eight players were already on the roster, including Ralph, Sully, Bishop, Caramel, Uno, and the dreaded Lucifer.

Since then, six more puppies have joined the ranks, leaving 11 open spots to fill before the big day. If you think your Buster or Bella is the real MVP, call 713-413-1633 to reserve a jersey (metaphorically, of course).

“There’s definitely always a variety of personalities there … it’s always fun to watch them start off shy and get really excited and see what their play style is,” Koch said. “We just want people with puppies to know we’re here and we can help them out, and for this, we just want to have a bunch of fun.”

If you can’t make it to the Puppy Bowl or lack a dog of your own to enter, fear not, for you can follow the action on Meadowlake’s Facebook and Instagram come game day.

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