2 Colorado Springs puppies playing in this weekend’s Puppy Bowl

Two of the biggest sports stars of the weekend might just be two pups from Colorado Springs.
Published: Feb. 10, 2023 at 10:39 AM MST
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COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (KKTV) - A couple of Colorado Springs athletes are playing in the big game this weekend!

... The other big game!

Gentle giant Sven and spitfire Vivianne will be appearing in front a national audience on Sunday’s Puppy Bowl XIX!

Chosen from puppies across the country, it’s a Cinderella story for these two pups. Neither had the easiest start in life, with Sven’s mother found as a stray while pregnant with more than a dozen pups --

“There were five big, giant great Pyrenees running out in the county. She came in and was pregnant and was sent to our foster program, where she had 13 babies in our foster care program, and an amazing foster raised all of them!” said Kelley Likes, the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region’s [HSPPR] vice president of philanthropy.

-- While Vivianne and her brother were found all alone at a construction site at just a few days old.

“A good Samaritan found her and her brother and brought them into [HSPPR],” Likes said.

Then at a few months old, the big leagues came knocking!

“Puppy Bowl actually reached out to us and asked if we wanted to submit some pets for the actual Puppy Bowl. They feature a lot of shelters and rescues around the entire country, and so we submitted Sven and Vivienne, and they got chosen by [Animal Planet] casting,” Likes told 11 News.

Filming for Puppy Bowl takes place in the fall, a few months before it airs. Suddenly, Likes and her husband found themselves chaperoning two little puppies in New York City!

“Sven is much too large to get on a plane, so we drove from here to upstate New York. It’s about 30 hours round-trip, of course stopping a lot for puppy breaks. Both of them were 3-4 months of age at the time, so lots of potty breaks along the way, lots of very late hotel stays.”

What was the actual experience filming Puppy Bowl like?

“So when we got to Puppy Bowl, we walked in, you go through a big tent, and they take you to a holding room full of puppies -- and of course, they all want to play with each other! -- and you have to try to keep them contained in a small space and they just want to tear at each other and get out and have a good time. They would take breaks, and we’d go and film part of the Puppy Bowl, and they’d get on stage, and it was really cool to watch because it’s a full arena that they set up, full football field to watch the puppies play on,” Likes said.

Not a regulation-size football field of course, but big enough for the puppies to romp around.

And how were Sven and Vivianne as players?

“Sven -- I’m his mom, so I feel like I can say this -- he really sniffed butts and walked around the field. So he didn’t do much. But Vivienne was amazing. I think she scored eight different touchdowns, and is just a phenomenal player, very in-your-face, rough and tumble, and I can’t wait for people to see what she does,” Likes said.

Based on a small snippet shared by Animal Planet, audiences may be seeing a lot of Vivianne in Sunday’s game!

“Vivianne filmed a special segment where she’s running out of a Puppy Bowl prop, and she’s in a leather jacket, and it’s amazing, so very long day and really cool set they got to play on,” Likes said.

Based on this promotional photo, she’s practically the face of Team “Fluff”!

While so fun to watch, Puppy Bowl’s main goal is to highlight the work shelters and rescues do across the country, as well as remind people of all the great dogs currently living in places like our own HSPPR. Every puppy featured on Sunday’s game came from a shelter or rescue, even if they have since been adopted.

“So the whole point of the Puppy Bowl is to highlight the great work that the rescues and shelters doing, and just for us to be a part of that is amazing, and to showcase what we do on a main stage, and get more awareness around what our humane society and our own community does,” Likes said.

Vivianne herself is testament to the great work HSPPR does. She was born with a heart murmur that may have gone undetected had she not been rescued. But thanks to the person who found her and the people at HSPPR who helped her along the way, she’s thriving.

“The cardiologist checked her out and said she can go to the Puppy Bowl and play safely,” Likes said.

While we won’t know the results of the Puppy Bowl until Sunday, we know both pups scored the best point of all: They each have a forever family! Likes ended up adopting Sven, while in a magical twist for Vivianne’s Cinderella story, the very vet who gave her a clean bill of health to travel for Puppy Bowl decided to adopt her!

There are so many other pups like Sven and Vivianne constantly coming in and out of the humane society. Keep an eye out for your next family member by visiting the HSPPR website.

You can catch Sven and Vivianne and all the action Sunday on Animal Planet, TBS, HBO Max and discovery+!