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Puppy Bowl XX ‘Rufferee’ Dan Schachner Stops By Us Weekly Studio with Adorable Adoptable Dogs  (Exclusive)

Puppy Bowl “rufferee” Dan Schachner is ready for the Sunday, February 11, big game to be the “puppiest Puppy Bowl ever.”

“We have 131 rescue dogs representing 73 shelters across the country. That’s our most amount ever,” Schachner exclusively told Us Weekly on Monday, February 5, alongside several adorable rescue dogs. “By the time Puppy Bowl’s done airing, they all get adopted. That’s been happening every year. We have a hundred percent adoption rate, but it really is puppies taking over. We’ve got puppies in the control room, puppies working the cameras on the sidelines with the cheerleaders. They are the cheerleaders. It’s pretty incredible.”

The Puppy Bowl, which debuted in 2005, spoofs the NFL’s annual Super Bowl championship and shows rescue dogs “competing” in a football game. Dogs are divided into two teams, Ruff vs. Fluff, as they score touchdowns with pet toys.

This year’s broadcast will have even more behind-the-scenes footage of the main event, with clips of the dogs entering the stadium and waiting at the water bowl. Plus, the Temptations Sky Box kittens will return alongside sportscasters Steve Levy and Taylor Rooks to offer play-by-play commentary. Schachner will also be wearing a GoPro to provide an up-close camera angle.

Schachner has been the main referee — affectionately called the “rufferee”  — for 13 years.

Puppy Bowl XX Rufferee Dan Schachner Brought Adoptable Dogs to Meet Us
Dan Schachner. Paul Zimmerman/WireImage

“The way I prepare is by staying alert and in shape and getting lots of sleep,” he told Us. “Because with 131 dogs, you really just have to pay the most attention as possible. You’ve got to call the fouls!”

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Schachner’s work on the Puppy Bowl gridiron even inspired him to become a dog owner.

“I started [refereeing] 13 years ago, but about 10 years ago, I said, ‘I better get into this doggie thing,’” he explained. “I didn’t want to adopt right away. I wanted to learn, and so I’ve been adopting dogs for 10 years and, in that time, I’ve fostered over 40 dogs. It’s a great way to learn so much.”

All Puppy Bowl competitors are rescue dogs, and Schachner brought several pups to the Us Weekly studio as he previewed the game, even gushing that Mr. Miraculous “did a fantastic job” on Team Fluff. (In addition to Mr. Miraculous, Schachner introduced Us to five other puppies — Anelle, Vivi, Adiri, Yan and Omy — who are all available for adoption through New York City’s The Sato Project.)

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“He’s more miraculous at knowing when dinnertime is than anything else,” Schachner joked of Mr. Miraculous. “He knows the exact time that the dinner bell rings, but he’s great at sit [and] paw [commands].”

In addition to Mr. Miraculous, there are several Puppy Bowl pups named after athletes competing in the 2024 Super Bowl. (The Kansas City Chiefs and the San Francisco 49ers will play in Super Bowl LVIII on Sunday.)

“Look out for Bark Purdy, because he does have a human namesake, but I feel like this guy’s a little more athletic and definitely cuter,” Schachner said, referring to 49ers quarterback Brock Purdy. “No offense to the other one, you’re cute too. I would [also] look out for Snack Prescott. I would look out for Jared Wolf. I would look out for Patrick Mabones.”

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The Puppy Bowl will also feature its biggest dog yet: a 72-pound Great Dane named Levi.

“Because it’s Puppy Bowl XX, we have our largest dog ever, Levi the Great Dane, at 72 pounds at only 3 months old,” Schachner said. “I mean, he’s, like, three times [of Mr. Miraculous] and our smallest dog ever, Sweet Pea, [who] is 1.7 pounds and can fit in the palm of your hand.”

Puppy Bowl 2024 airs on Animal Planet on Sunday, February 11 at 2 p.m. ET. The TV special will be simulcast on Discovery, Discovery+, Max, TBS and TruTV.

With reporting by Christina Garibaldi 

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