Massachusetts: Local Rescue Dog Featured In Puppy Bowl

The biggest game in football is taking place on Sunday, February 11th but I'm looking forward to the field activities leading up to kickoff over on Animal Planet. Puppy Bowl 20! That's right. Celebrating their 20th broadcast anniversary, the show will be full of more adoptable dogs from more shelters and rescues than ever before (131 to be exact!). But around here, we're cheering for a local rescue mix from Great Dog Rescue New England who will be playing for Team Fluff. Meet Max, full name Sir Maximus Pipsqueak. This 8-pound mix is shy and sweet and came at just the right time for the Barnicle family of Waltham, Massachusetts. Erin and her husband Nate have been fostering dogs for Great Dog Rescue New England for over 10 years, caring for more than 250 within that time, including 4 that never left. So, when GDRNE needed a last-minute home for Max after his adopters failed to show up, they reached out to the Barnicles. Of course it was a yes. When their 5-year-old son met him, he knew Max was meant to be there and so he became a permanent member of the pack. [caption id="attachment_320447" align="aligncenter" width="2048"] Max, on the far left, sitting with the rest of his pack. All four dogs were fostered and adopted by the Barnicle family through Great Dog Rescue New England. Photo: Erin Barnicle.[/caption] How exactly did he make it to Puppy Bowl 20? I was intrigued myself. I'm sure everyone's experience is different, but I was fascinated with how Erin managed to get Max, or Big Man as you'll come to know him on screen, to the big time. I had no idea that it was an audition process. Seems illogical now but I assumed the network just inquired with rescues around the country. Boy was I wrong. From start to finish it took roughly 2 months to make it happen. Erin and her husband work in the restaurant industry and she happen to have a contact at Food Network who sent her in the right direction. There was paperwork and video submissions and interviews. Max was one of the lucky pups to be chosen, so in October they headed to New York City for filming (I naively thought the show was Live!). And it sounds like my dream scenario. A giant space full of dogs and every person there loves dogs and only wants to talk about dogs. Dream! I digress. Everything was well organized and the setup was "impressive," according to Erin. "The volunteers, the green rooms, the workers, everything was top notch," she commented. Filming is done by dog size to avoid any conflicts, starting with smallest to biggest. Multiple scenes are recorded. Even though the show is filmed in advance, the families or rescues won't know how their dog is used until the program airs. Although, I can report that "Big Man" made it onto a Valpak envelope. [caption id="attachment_320456" align="aligncenter" width="908"] Max, sitting in the front wearing a green football field bowtie, with his siblings sitting behind him on a dog bed. Max joined his family in mid 2023 and fit in right away with the gang. Max is playing in this year's Puppy Bowl and his on-screen name is Big Man. Photo: Erin Barnicle.[/caption] Why is Puppy Bowl important? Besides the obvious good feels. Because it brings attention to adopting and not shopping. By featuring these dogs it's helping to raise awareness on the many, many animals that are available for adoption at a shelter or rescue near you that are looking for a forever home. Please consider adopting your next best friend. Also in their 20th year, Great Dog Rescue New England, is always in need of volunteers of all kinds. Don't miss the 20th Puppy Bowl Pregame show, Sunday, February 11th beginning at 2pm on the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, TBS or stream on Max to see who wins the Lombarky Trophy. [caption id="attachment_320480" align="aligncenter" width="1067"] The Barnicle family, who fostered and adopted Max through Great Dog Rescue New England. Erin and Nate (holding Max) have been long time fosters and dedicate much of their time to volunteering for the rescue. Photo: Erin Barnicle.[/caption]   Whether you love dogs or love someone who loves dogs, check out these Must Have items. Personalized Gifts For The Dog Lover In Your Life 6 Gifts For Pet Owners Under $20 Gifts For Your Dog