Puppy Bowl ref Dan Schachner on job, fostering and more

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 23: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Dan Schachner visits People Now to discuss the 2020 Puppy Bowl on January 23, 2020 in New York, United States. (Photo by Manny Carabel/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NEW YORK - JANUARY 23: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Dan Schachner visits People Now to discuss the 2020 Puppy Bowl on January 23, 2020 in New York, United States. (Photo by Manny Carabel/Getty Images) /
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Puppy Bowl XVII. Photo credit: discovery+ /Animal Planet / Elias Weiss Friedman
Puppy Bowl XVII. Photo credit: discovery+ /Animal Planet / Elias Weiss Friedman /

Puppy Bowl referee Dan Schachner talks about the process of how the game comes together.

Dog O’Day – How does the filming and editing all come together? Cause you have all the footage of them playing, and then you have the polished final product, how does that process work in getting a storyline all together?

Dan Schachner – The process of creating it is as fascinating as the show itself, I think. It begins around late summer, they start thinking about what its going to look like this year, what’s going to be different this year.

Some parts of the structure stay the same every year, it’s a football game, so there’s four quarters, and so each quarter we try to spotlight a different group of dogs from smallest in the first to biggest in the fourth quarter. We have the Kitten Halftime Show which is pretty cool, this year we have a DJ cat who’s going to be spinning tunes. And then we have cheerleaders, often they’re a different animal species, but this year they are dogs. There’s the hamster in the blimp cam, a hamster who powers the scoreboard by running on the wheel, there’s a bird who tweets out game updates…

So it’s kind of a zoo environment, but those things are consistent every single year. What’s different is what the dogs themselves are going to do. The challenge for us is really in casting the dogs. It’s not that hard for us to find dogs that want to be on Puppy Bowl, that part is no longer a difficult task, they come to us and there are hundreds and hundreds of pictures to sort through. But the requirements are simple: You have to be a puppy between three and six months of age, you obviously have to be up for adoption, and while you do have to be cute – I mean, most dogs three to six months are cute anyway, I don’t think I’ve ever seen a dog who was non-cute at that age – I may be biased, though. But one really important part is that they have to be untrained.

That’s something that people don’t think about very much; the way that this is cut, it takes about a week because we’re trying to showcase as many animals and elements and events as possible, that’s hours and hours and hours of footage being edited into a two-to-three-hour event. People watch the game and they’re like, “Wow, this this excellent! This is incredible!” and it really, really is, it’s beautiful to watch the slo-mo cam, or the different cameras we have embedded throughout the playing area. But the reality is, they’re all untrained dogs. That’s one of the key requirements! Any dog who has had any little bit of training, we don’t want ‘em, we want them purely untrained puppies in their pure unadulterated state so that you know that when you’re adopting them, this is what you’re getting. And that’s part of what makes the Puppy Bowl so great, they’re like, “Wow, can you imagine if they’re this good without training, what would they be like if we adopted them and gave them some training in our own homes?”

So that’s what we’re trying to do, inspire the world. That’s kind of the long story of how the Puppy Bowl comes together.

It’s almost a 100 percent adoption rate afterwards, right?

It is 100 percent, actually. We don’t ever have any dogs left behind, maybe after the show airs there might be a couple dogs that are in the process of getting inquiries but aren’t quite there yet, but by a couple days after the Puppy Bowl has aired, they’re all adopted. If you have a dog on national television that’s viewed by millions of people, and you’re up for adoption, chances are that shelter is going to receive a ton of adoption inquiries. And because a lot of people ask, “what if I’d like to end up with a Puppy Bowl dog?” During the  show, as quickly as you can, go to PuppyBowl.com and that’ll direct you, there’ll be like a Meet the Dogs area, and you will immediately get connected with that dog’s rescue group or shelter so you can make your inquiries. But work fast, because they do all get adopted 100 percent.

The Dog Bowl for senior dogs, is that happening this year?

It’s not happening this year, no. We decided to fold the Dog Bowl into the Puppy Bowl. The mission of helping senior dogs is still a part of what we do, but the Dog Bowl existed as a separate show, and we decided to combine them together, so as our eyes are all focused on Puppy Bowl, we’re all trained in on this event, we’re taking this opportunity with all the millions of people watching to also highlight senior dogs through segments called Senior Spotlight.

That’s where we look at dogs in need that need to be adopted, they may have had difficult backgrounds, but they’re all in need of adoption, they’re all seniors, and that’s a big part of our mission and that’s not going to stop. We figured it was easier to make Puppy Bowl into more of a celebration of all dogs, and it’s worked out well so far. I think the results are gonna be great.

We put a big emphasis on special needs dogs, a couple years ago we started incorporating them because we realized they languish in the shelters longer than most. They’re fully capable of playing puppy football, and we’ve proven that. There are so many great dogs this year, but be on the lookout for a double amputee named Jet, he’s got his little back wheels and he’s wheeling all around the floor and doing a great job. Marshall is a hearing-impaired dog who’s training to be a therapy dog, there are so many great stories out there. But the whole point is to cast as many different types of dogs as possible.

Next. Puppy Bowl 17: What viewers need to know. dark

Again, Puppy Bowl XVII will air on Animal Planet and Discovery Plus at 2 p.m. ET on Sunday, February 7. If you want to watch Super Bowl 55 later, check out our sister sites Arrowhead Addict and The Pewter Plank for the latest coverage of the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers, respectively.