Ummm, of course, I jumped at the chance to interview the referee of Puppy Bowl because I can barely imagine a cooler job! Lucky for us, Ref. Andrew had tons to say about what he describes as "puppies pretending to play football in a miniature football stadium with 'Puppy Penalties,' 'Fido First Downs,' and 'Terrier Tackles' – it's the cutest two hours of television you could ever ask for."
I agree and will absolutely tune into Animal Planet on Feb.1 at 3 p.m. to the action on the gridiron. Find out what it's like behind the scenes and start the first of my two-part interview below.
PetSugar: How did you get this job?
Ref: I'd say that it's very similar to American Idol where they fill arenas with potential hopefuls that want to be the ref . . . but, in reality, I was already working for Animal Planet. I like to think I was born into the position. Some people are teachers, some people are firemen, and I referee adorable little puppies pretending to play football – it was meant to be.
PetSugar: What's your practice like in the off-season?
Ref: It's a strict regimen. I mostly eat carbohydrates and sugars to stay fueled and I train in dog parks with big dogs so that I'm ready for the little ones. I've got a really strict exercise regimen as well – gotta be in tip-top shape for the puppies.
Learn more about the "athletes" themselves and
PetSugar: How many players are there?
Ref: All together there are 38 dogs. This year they're all shelter puppies and they've actually all been adopted by the time you see the show on air. That's really the message behind Puppy Bowl and why we're so excited about it: Puppies need to be adopted as well as adults – big dogs, medium-sized dogs, there is a dog out there for everyone.
PetSugar: Do you spend time with the pups beforehand?
Ref: I get to meet all the athletes before the game and I give them a little pep talk. I tell them I want a clean game in advance: 'Listen, I'm glad you're here but we need a clean game and I need some order on the field.' And I think they appreciate that.
PetSugar: Where do they come from?
Ref:The show's filmed in Silver Spring, MD, (which is right outside Washington, DC) and we use regional shelters like the SPCA of Anne Arundel County, Furry Friends Network – there are so many animals out there that need to be adopted in local shelters, and Petfinder's always a big help in getting us dogs. These are all adopted, which is awesome, but go on Petfinder.com and see all the different ways you can adopt and see puppies and dogs available at shelters near you.
PetSugar: I'm excited for Puppy Bowl V – what was your most memorable moment from last year?
Ref: I don't remember the exact name of the dog, it might have been Abigail, a Jack Russell. So, of course, I have to throw my flag for penalties. What happened was I threw my flag and I looked down to retrieve my flag and it's gone – Abigail's running around the field with my flag. So here I am chasing after her, in front of the cameras, and I want to show who's in charge here. It was tough but I got my flag back but not without some excitement before then.