We are so excited to announce that a few of our very own Fi dogs will be participating in the 2021 Puppy Bowl! This event airs right before the Super Bowl each year and features puppies from various rescues across the U.S. as they compete against each other in a friendly game of dog football! You definitely do not want to miss it this year...

We had the opportunity to interview Birte, a director at Charlie's Crusaders Pet Rescue (one of the rescues selected to participate in the Puppy Bowl), to ask her about the pups and the experience:

Can you tell us about Charlie's Crusaders Pet Rescue and your mission?

CCPR was created to help rescue the neglected and homeless dog population in the mid-south, specifically targeting the rural areas around Memphis and North Mississippi. While we try to focus on the rural areas and less on the metro Memphis area, we have since grown to include medically critical or pregnant shelter pups, as well as street dogs from some of the worst areas around town. Our goal is to rescue, rehabilitate and place into loving homes. While we do adopt locally, the greatest number of our dogs get transported to the Pennsylvania and New Jersey area where we have a strong volunteer and foster base.

Introduce us to the Puppy Bowl pups! What are their names, stories, and personalities like?

We are lucky enough to have 4 dogs that were invited to this year’s Puppy Bowl.  It was an amazing experience and as a rescue we are so grateful to have been chosen to participate. Our participating pups are Tank, Vinnie, and Cosmo for Team Ruff and Jiffy for Team Fluff (Jiffy wants everyone to know that he is not a “Fluff” kind of dog, it was chosen for him, he wants to make sure to share with everyone that he is as Ruff as they come)!

Tank is a true puppy and true to his name, loves to plough ahead in life.  He seems to have stolen the show with his antics.  Tank is also a finalist in the Pup-ularity contest - the winner will be announced during the show! What most people do not know is that Tank almost did not make the team. Due to Covid, there were travel restrictions in place for anyone coming to the taping from the surrounding states. Tank was located in Virginia and right before his family was supposed to leave for the show, their state was deemed red and no longer able to travel to NY. Luckily, his family was super supportive and so was the Puppy Bowl.  They allowed another volunteer from PA to pick Tank up and bring him to the show for taping. To think the world almost missed out on meeting Tank...

Vinnie is a small dog with a big heart and a big self esteem. He thinks he should definitely run with the big dogs even though his legs are a bit shorter. At the time of casting, Vinnie was tiny. He was just a tad bigger than a bottle of Coca Cola! Vinnie is lucky enough that he not only gets to share the rest of his life with his brother Jiffy (they were adopted by the same family), but he also got to share his Puppy Bowl experience with him as well. Jiffy has the body to match Vinnie’s personality as he is quite a bit bigger than Vinnie, but he is just a sweet, cuddly boy who relies on his smaller brother for support. Both Jiffy and Vinnie came from a litter of pups that broke with Parvo. Luckily this did not stop them.

Cosmo does his ears justice. He is perky and mischievous but oh so lovable. He was a little intimidated by everything surrounding the Puppy Bowl (as was Jiffy), so while he participated, he spent a little more time on the bench building up his confidence.

How did these pups come to be a part of the Puppy Bowl? What was the process like?

Normally the Puppy Bowl is a national casting call and there are many rescues out there with a bigger reach than we have. However, due to Covid, they opted to make it a more regional experience this year, not wanting to encourage travel from outside the area. Since most of our dogs are with fosters in the Northeast, we qualified.

The rest was luck - One of our southern fosters had a friend who was a Facebook friend with someone on the casting team. That person had posted a request for some recommendations of rescues that fit the requirements and that is how we were recommended and ultimately chosen.  We were contacted and asked if we would like to participate and of course we said YES.  After that initial contact, it was a whirlwind of activity which was managed by an amazing group of volunteers in PA that we would not have been able to make it happen without.  

The Puppy Bowl team had very strict age requirements, which dictated the dogs that were eligible. Once we submitted the pictures and stories, Vinnie was chosen as our participant. As we got closer to taping, some rescues had to pull out of the process due to the ever changing Covid landscape and we were approached to see if we had any additional puppies we could add to the lineup - hence Tank, Jiffy, and Cosmo were added. After that, it was vet visits for final checkups, Covid test, and travel.  Each dog & human travel companion had to spend the night as it was a full day of taping. Again, our group of volunteers completely made this happen and it’s exciting to see the opportunities this has provided us with to share what rescue is like in the Mid-South.

What did the pups think of the Puppy Bowl?! Do you think they had as much fun as it looks like?!

Well I think Tank and Vinnie loved it and will probably tell all of their friends for the rest of their lives about their moment in the spotlight. The other dogs at the dog park will probably get sick of the stories. Cosmo and Jiffy decided that they were too adult for the childish games and decided to rise above it all - at least that is the story they are going to be telling.

Are any CCPR Puppy Bowl Pups still looking for a home? How can somebody adopt a puppy from the Puppy Bowl who hasn't found their home yet?

Luckily these 4 boys have found their forever homes allowing us to fill those foster spots with more dogs that we saved since then.  The Puppy Bowl was taped in October so most if not all of the dogs that participated have found their forever homes, but we have the future stars in rescue now, so anybody who is interested in these 4 athletes might find a future star to adopt instead!

How can somebody adopt one of your other dogs at CCPR? How can somebody get involved with CCPR as a volunteer, foster family, etc?

Thank you so much for asking.  This is really what it is all about.  We have all of our adoptable dogs listed on our website - www.charliescrusaders.org - with pictures and short bios.  We are constantly updating this so there are new pups added weekly.  Please check out the website, make sure to pay attention to the bio so that we can hopefully find the right dog for your unique situation, and fill out an application right there on the website.  It is a pretty lengthy application and it may feel like we are digging deep, however it is designed specifically to help ensure that this is the best selection for both the adopter and the dog, so please take your time in filling it out.

Once we have reviewed the application we will be in touch. I do want to stress that we mainly adopt to the PA and NJ general vicinity as well as the greater Memphis, TN area.  We are not opposed to adopting elsewhere for the right home, it just is a bit harder to do since we want to make sure we have the proper support system in place for the adopter (we stay with our adopters through the process and beyond if they ever need anything).

Regarding volunteers - WE ALWAYS NEED VOLUNTEERS! Many people think that volunteering means fostering. It can, but does not have to. Fostering comes in many forms - we have short term fosters, emergency fosters, long term fosters, and medical fosters, so if you are considering fostering, please reach out and we will find the best option for you.  

Other ways people can volunteer: We need people to help with physical events both up North and in the South, but we also have many opportunities for people to help who are not physically located in the PA or TN area. We need people who will help with the application process, organizing the fosters, transport, medical, marketing, etc. This is all something that can be done by phone and/or computer, so can be located anywhere. You will find information on our website on some ways to volunteer as well as the best way to get in touch with us.

Anything else you'd like to share about the experience?

We would just again like to express our deepest gratitude to the Puppy Bowl organization for allowing us to be a part of this year’s event and hope that we have done the opportunity justice. I also would like to point out again that none of this would have been possible without the amazing group of volunteers we have in PA. I have several specific people in mind, but I also know that there is always so much more support than even I know about so I do not want to give any names for fear of forgetting one. Finally, I would like to thank Fi for all of the support they have given us and this great opportunity to share this experience!

If you missed it, you can watch the 2021 Puppy Bowl on Discovery Plus!

If you're a rescue looking to learn more about Fi's Rescue Program, please email rescues@tryfi.com to learn more.