An amazing double-touchdown by Fluvanna County’s own Boston terrier puppy Marshall earned him Puppy Bowl XVII’s MVP award Sunday.
Marshall, who is deaf, earned the honor by crossing the goal line with not just one, but two toys, despite hot pursuit from opponents. Marshall also scored Team Fluff’s first touchdown after a tough tug-of-war with Team Ruff’s rascally Muffin when he broke free and scampered to the end zone.
Despite Marshall’s feats, Team Ruff squeaked out a 73-69 victory.
The Puppy Bowl is a bit of a free-for-all dog park-style game of run, jump and chase, with scoring based on bringing toys across the goal line. If a puppy carries the toy over, it’s a touchdown. Kicking it in with paws is a field goal.
This year’s contest, which showcased puppies of different abilities and challenges, saw each contestant adopted prior to the game’s finish. That keeps the dogs’ winning streak intact. Every dog that has appeared on the program during its 17 seasons as companion competition to the NFL’s Super Bowl has found a new home.
The game featured 70 puppies from 22 shelters in the battle for the Lombarky Trophy.
Marshall is one of five puppies with special needs that competed. All were from Green Dogs Unleashed in Troy.
Joining Marshall was fellow Fluco Fletcher, an American Staffordshire terrier and beagle mix who is both deaf and visually impaired. Theodore, aka “Theo,” a Great Pyrenees and Australian shepherd blend; a Dalmatian named Hank and now known as Gus after being adopted; and chow-Irish setter mix Chunky Monkey also played.
Green Dogs Unleashed’s Erika Proctor said the dogs interacting and play helps show would-be adopters that special needs dogs are much like all dogs.
“It completely takes the stigma away,” Proctor told The Daily Progress in a pre-game interview. “People see these blind and deaf puppies, and they can compete. There’s nothing to fear about adopting a special-needs dog.”