Puppies, puppies everywhere. With the eighth annual Puppy Bowl set to kick off on Sunday (Animal Planet, 3 p.m. ET) the little mutts have been as ubiquitous on the media rounds as some of the big dogs in the NFL.
This week they were taped running around theWall Street Journal offices (no newspapers were defaced), played a makeshift game on "The Today Show" prompting Matt Lauer to call a "roughing the pisser" penalty, and piled on the laps of chefs Tom Colicchio and Carla Hall in Andy Cohen's "Watch What Happens Live" clubhouse where the drinking word of the night was, you guessed it, puppies. That meant 25 shots for those playing along at home.
But with 9.2 million viewers last year, the Bowl has become serious business which means working the talent as hard as -- well -- dogs to promote it. As for the game itself, it was filmed in New York over three days in October, but much like child labor laws, there are also puppy regulations and a representative from the Humane Society was on hand to ensure they only played for 20 minutes at a time to prevent exhaustion.
And the pups aren't the only animals working it. New this year is a cockatoo named Meep (yes, as in Road Runner's Meep, Meep!) who will be tweeting live during the game under @MeepTheBird.
The chicken cheerleaders from last year are also out in favor of a piglet pep squad whose mission was to "ham it up" on the sidelines. While all the animals featured are adoptable, the pep pigs come with a disclaimer that they must be used for actual pets and not bacon - or be loaned out for Geico commercials to scream wheeeeeeeeeee!
As for additions of the human variety, entertainment reporter and animal activist Jill Rappaport provides puppy play-by-play, and there's also a new rookie referee to handle fouls of every variety.