Raise the woof!
A few hours before Super Bowl LVIII kicked off, dog-friendly coffee house Boris and Horton teamed up with Best Friends Animal Society to host a Puppy Bowl XX viewing party for furry friends and their “hoomans” in Williamsburg.
The event was a touchdown, featuring paw-cuterie boards for four-legged viewers as well as special appearances by Puppy Bowl referee Dan Schachner and Best Friends’ pup Sonny, who played in this year’s Puppy Bowl for “Team Ruff.”
Puppy Bowl is the longest-running call-to-adoption event on television, which aims to raise awareness about adopting shelter animals and rescuing strays. Teams Ruff and Fluff — featuring a record-breaking 131 puppy players from 73 shelters and rescues from 36 states — raced and chased for three hours on the gridiron. In a close game, Team Ruff beat Team Fluff 72 to 69, taking home the coveted Lombarky Trophy.
According to Boris and Horton’s co-owner, Logan Mikhly, the Driggs Avenue shop (which also has a location in the East Village), has hosted a Puppy Bowl viewing party for a few years. This year’s watch party doubled as an adoption event after Best Friends reached out to help animals find their forever homes.
“People are always just looking for a fun social place to watch [the Puppy Bowl],” Mikhly said. “And the other thing that’s really nice is when the Puppy Bowl first came around, it was during the commercial breaks of the Super Bowl, but now it’s before the Super Bowl. So you can watch both.”
Puppy Bowl XX was extra special for Best Friends, a national non-profit dedicated to ending the killing of cats and dogs in America’s shelters by 2025. Amy Gravel, communications and outreach specialist for the group, shared that one of their shelter pups, Sonny, played on team Ruff in Puppy Bowl XX. Sonny came to Best Friends in New York City from the Humane Society of Elmore County in Alabama, where he and another puppy were found wandering around as strays.
“We wanted to get people out with their dogs to come and hang out before the big game,” Gravel said. “They’re going to have puppy snacks like puppy charcuterie boards, and so we thought it would be cute if we hosted and some of the proceeds from the tickets go to support our work with rescuing.”
Sonny’s mom, Liana Khatri, told Brooklyn Paper that they had fostered Sonny for a few days when he had to leave to film the Puppy Bowl. They realized then they had fallen in love with him and couldn’t stand the thought of someone else adopting the eight-month-old pup.
“He’s sort of a foster fail,” Kathri said. “Having a dog really just changes your whole life. It makes you a lot more mindful. He brings so much joy to us. If either of us has a bad day at work, we come home, and you forget what you even were upset about.”
Puppy Bowl referee Schachner has judged the canine contest for 13 years. Schachner is not only a ref, but also an advocate for homeless dogs.
“By the time Puppy Bowl starts airing, all of [the dogs] will find a ‘fur-ever’ home,” Schachner said. “And that’s the spirit we are trying to get across each and every year.”
Shelters and rescue groups across the country are largely at or over capacity because fewer people are adopting shelter animals and instead buying their pooch from breeders or pet stores. According to the ASPCA, approximately 920,000 shelter animals are euthanized each year.
Schachner pointed out that people can find purebreds, puppies, and beautiful mixes in shelters. He suggested checking Petfinder.com to connect with one of the many shelters in New York City.
“You will start a relationship with that rescue, tell them your needs,” Schachner said. “Eventually, the dog that is right for you will come across. If you are still not sure, try to foster first. Fostering is no commitment, they are just in your home for a short period of time. And hopefully, this will turn into a full adoption.”
Melissa Brij-Raj attended the Puppy Bowl watch party with her three-year-old Poodle-Bijon mix, Archie. Brij-Raj lives in Hells Kitchen but likes to trek to Boris and Horton’s Williamsburg location because it is one of the few dog-friendly places in the city.
“We watched [Puppy Bowl] last year but just in my apartment,” Brij-Raj said. “We didn’t go out or do any of the fun things, so we’re excited this year.”
In celebration of Puppy Bowl XX, Best Friends will offer fee-waived adoptions at its New York City Pet Lifesaving Center in SoHo through Feb. 14 to help adoptable pets find loving homes just in time for Valentine’s Day.