Meet the 11 Special-Needs Dogs Competing in Puppy Bowl 2023
Introducing some of the stars of the 2023 Puppy Bowl and the rescue organizations they’re representing.
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We’re five weeks away from the big game: the yearly tradition of two teams featuring some of our best athletes vying for the crown. No, not the Super Bowl, though that event is a good excuse to make some killer nachos. Rather, its cuter counterpart — the Puppy Bowl. For the past 18 years, the Puppy Bowl has been an adorable refuge from the often chaotic and intense nature of Super Bowl Sunday.
Airing before its human counterpart, the game includes exclusively shelter puppies and is intended to raise awareness of the importance of adopting from rescues and the prevalence of pets abandoned in them. Organizations from across the U.S. put their pups in this cuddly competition so you can watch 100-plus dogs tumble over each other while supporting a good cause. This year, there are more dogs than ever competing — 122 pups from 67 different shelters — and 11 of those dogs are rescues with special needs. Below are the dogs and shelters proving that there’s nothing stopping typically “less adoptable” dogs from growing into star athletes, including a tripod Shih Tzu mix, a Bulldog mix with a cleft palate, a deaf Dalmatian, and more special-needs pups who don’t let their disabilities hold them back.
Puppy Bowl XIX airs Sunday, February 12th at 2 p.m. EST on Animal Planet.
Bea / ARF Beacon
Bea is deaf and came to Arf Beacon with her sister. By each other’s sides, they have blossomed into social butterflies.
Joey / Vintage Pet Rescue
Joey was born without front legs. He likes playing with special needs pooches and, according to his caretakers, makes everyone smile.
Julius / Green Dogs Unleashed
Julius was born with hearing loss. He’s preparing for the big game with his friend Hank, a deaf Dalmatian who previously competed in the Puppy Bowl.
Kayden / Green Dogs Unleashed
Kayden is partially deaf and famous around Green Dogs Unleashed for his joyful personality.
Little Mighty / Indy Humane
Little Mighty lost his leg after it was broken. He was surrendered to Indy Humane by his original owner, who couldn’t afford to care for his injury. Today, he’s living life to the fullest.
Mini / Rescue Dogs Rock
Mini lost a leg as a puppy. She’s tiny, but her personality’s huge.
Mykonos / Bosley’s Place
Mykonos was surrendered by her breeder when he realized she couldn’t nurse because of her cleft palate. She learned to eat and drink at the rescue, and she’s grown into an active athlete.
Cheeky Tinker / Green Dogs Unleashed
Cheeky Tinker was born with a hearing impairment. He’s a charmer who’s acing his behavioral training.
Clover / Rescue Dogs Rock
Clover has a fused front let, and she narrowly avoided being euthanized by her original owner. Rescue Dogs Rock saved the day, and Clover grew into a playful, happy dog.
Marmalade / Double J Dog Ranch
Marmalade has hearing loss and broke part of her jaw after a fall. She’s made a great recovery from her injury, and she’s a confident, loving pup.
Stardust / Danbury Animal Welfare Society
Stardust has one eye, is very competitive, and loves to play fetch.
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Sean Zucker is a writer whose work has been featured in Points In Case, The Daily Drunk, Posty, and WellWell. He has an adopted Pit Bull named Banshee whose work has been featured on the kitchen floor and whose behavioral issues rival his own.