Frankie & Niner’s Road to Puppy Bowl XX

Josephine TempongkoUncategorized1 Comment

Recently, HSSV had two puppies, Frankie and Niner, participate in this year’s Puppy Bowl XX on Animal Planet. HSSV’s VP of Strategic Growth, Nancy Willis, chaperoned Frankie and Niner to the Puppy Bowl – so we caught up with her to get the ‘behind the scenes’ scoop!

HSSV VP of Strategic Growth Nancy Willis with Frankie and Niner at the Puppy Bowl

HSSV VP of Strategic Growth Nancy Willis with Frankie and Niner at the Puppy Bowl

How did HSSV end up participating in Puppy Bowl XX?

“When Animal Planet approached us about being a part of Puppy Bowl XX, we chose to participate because it was a chance to use a national platform to talk about why pet adoption is so important. It was also an opportunity to get the word out about how HSSV is saving lives and keeping families together.”

Frankie and Niner's official Puppy Bowl photos

Frankie and Niner’s official Puppy Bowl photos

How did Frankie and Niner end up getting chosen for the puppy bowl?

“We were given specific criteria: the puppies had to be a certain age by a certain date, so we worked backwards from that in looking for the right puppy. They also recommended we choose a small breed puppy because we would be flying there, as they had a situation in years prior where a puppy was flying across country and had gotten too big, so he actually had to be driven across country for filming!

We let our Rescue Team know we were looking for small breed puppies of a certain age, and were alerted when this group came in from a Rescue Run to Madera County – four puppies, three boys and a girl.”

Frankie and Niner with their siblings when they first arrived at HSSV

Frankie and Niner with their siblings when they first arrived at HSSV

Our Rescue Runs are made possible entirely thanks to the Sue and John Diekman Regional Rescue Run program, which is funded in its entirety by its namesake. It just so happened that Sue and John were participating in the Rescue Run that Frankie and Niner arrived on, which was a coincidence but also a great opportunity to thank these generous people who are responsible for so many lives saved.

Sue and John Diekman receive Niner as he arrives at HSSV from a Rescue Run

Sue and John Diekman receive Niner as he arrives at HSSV from a Rescue Run

“I saw them and just immediately felt like they were the ones. Animal Planet had told us, if you pick siblings, make sure they look different enough – and we felt like Frankie looked different enough from the boys – she was petite, and really spunky.”

HSSV President Kurt Krukenberg gives Frankie and Niner a pep talk before their big Puppy Bowl win

HSSV President Kurt Krukenberg gives Frankie and Niner a pep talk before their big Puppy Bowl win

“We chose Niner because he was the biggest of the boys and looked the most different from her – his coat was smoother, and a different color. Also, obviously there was a cuteness factor. This litter of puppies was playful and energetic when they arrived at HSSV.”

What was the process like getting Frankie and Niner from HSSV to New York to film the puppy bowl?

“While Frankie and Niner’s siblings were adopted within a day or two of going on the adoption floor, both Frankie and Niner were in foster care until we were ready to go to New York [to film the Puppy Bowl]. During that time, they got to go train with the 49ers at the stadium, and that’s when they had their ‘workout’ with four players from the 49ers – Curtis Robinson, Oren Burks, Demetrius Flannigan-Fowles, and Clelin Ferrell.

Frankie and Niner film their 'Pup Close and Personal' spot with the 49ers

Frankie and Niner film their ‘Pup Close and Personal’ spot with the 49ers

We flew with Frankie and Niner on a red eye through Chicago to Albany. They had a day to chill and relax in the hotel, and even made some friends – and then we were off to filming the next day.

They told us to plan for a 12-hour day, especially since our puppies were so involved. They were one of five ‘Pup Close and Personal’ spots. They were included in the draft, and we filmed a segment of ‘guess their breed’. All the puppies had to have their official photos taken and that was quite a process! They looked so tired during filming because all the interviews were at the end of the day, and it had been a long one for these two young puppies.

Frankie and Niner being drafted to Team Ruff

Frankie and Niner being drafted to Team Ruff

Frankie was the Captain of Team Ruff, so we got to film her accepting the Lombarky Trophy, though we didn’t know at the time which team would win.”

What was it like behind the scenes at the Puppy Bowl?

“We were so grateful to be involved in this event. It was fun to see behind the scenes and what goes into the Puppy Bowl. The Animal Planet team works on that show year-round, and there’s so much involved. It was a process from the time they contacted us to when it was ready to air, and it was interesting to see all that went into it – it’s not as simple as putting a bunch of puppies out on a field and letting them play. They also had several humane advisors to make sure the puppies were well cared for – if they start to get tired they would say, ‘Hey, pull them out’.

Niner is held by a humane advisor during filming

Niner is held by a humane advisor during filming

During the filming of the actual game footage, they had all the human companions come into this arena. At one end they had the whole field set up, and we were sitting at the other end. They would take our puppies from us – and we would hear cheering, but we couldn’t really see what was happening on the field. Puppies would come back and get a little time out, and they would come and take puppies in – but we didn’t know who was scoring.

A behind-the-scenes look at Puppy Bowl XX

A behind-the-scenes look at Puppy Bowl XX

The puppies got to meet so many people. Everyone that saw them fell in love with them, even the hotel staff.”

Frankie and Niner visit with hotel staff on their trip to the Puppy Bowl

Frankie and Niner visit with hotel staff on their trip to the Puppy Bowl

Where are Frankie and Niner now?

“Frankie and Niner now both live in Portland, Oregon across the street from each other and have frequent playdates. Frankie is now named Pepper and has a brother named Auggie. Niner is still Niner, and he’s got two human sisters who love him very much.”

Frankie and Niner in their forever homes - across the street from each other!

Frankie and Niner in their forever homes – across the street from each other!

Who would Frankie and Niner like to thank for all their Puppy Bowl success?

I think they would thank Madera County Animal Services, the partner shelter they came from – and of course Sue and John Diekman, because they wouldn’t have arrived at HSSV without them. Thank you to all the staff and volunteers at HSSV for all the care they received. Thanks to the 49ers for all their coaching and training, and to Animal Planet for inviting HSSV to participate in the Puppy Bowl. It was a great experience and we appreciated the opportunity!”

One Comment on “Frankie & Niner’s Road to Puppy Bowl XX”

  1. Fabulous summary of how impactful all animals are and their unique abilities to give and share love with all who meet them
    Changing lives as seen with having raised 4 puppies in service training for Canine Companions
    Much love
    Michelle🐾💕

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