The Atlanta Falcons might not have made it to the Super Bowl this year, but the city will still be represented on the field Sunday. Instead of pads and helmets, think paws and chew toys.
Crimson, a Jack Russell Terrier mix, will be featured in the starting lineup of this year’s Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet, along with four backups from the Atlanta area, including Crimson’s sister Cherry.
Puppy Bowl XI, which will air this Sunday, features shelter dogs from across the country playing for either Team Ruff or Team Fluff, and scoring points by dragging toys into the end zone.
Crimson, who was a shelter dog at Atlanta Underdog Initiative when the show filmed in New York City in October, was picked to play in part for his ability to handle stressful situations and his fun personality, said Underdog founder Liz Henderson.
“He stood out from the beginning,” Henderson said.
She helped Crimson “train” by getting him used to playing with chew toys and socializing him with other dogs. The rookie also got help from Puppy Bowl veteran Alfalfa, a starting lineup player last year who was fostered by the same family and who acted as a surrogate father to the pup.
While — spoiler alert — Crimson didn’t break any records on the field (he “put in a good effort,” Henderson said), he got something even better after the show filmed: a permanent home.
Now called Marlin by his new mom, Brandi Terkeurst, he enjoys running and playing at his new Hapeville home. And though he’s had a taste of fame, Terkeurst said he’s far from a diva.
“He is the guy that sits back, rarely draws attention to himself, and seems to have a demeanor that whispers “Stand back, I got this,” Terkeurst said.
Second string pup
Beagle mix Mo, who served as one of the Atlanta alternates for the Puppy Bowl, also found a home after filming.
Mo, who previously lived at Southern Comfort Animal Rescue in Glenwood, was adopted by the Thompson family of Villa Ricca after they lost a string of pets over the course of a few years. Renee Thompson said she saw Mo’s photo on a Petfinder site and instantly knew she would join the family.
“She instantly spoke to my heart,” Renee Thomas said. “I stared at that picture for what seemed like hours.”