Atlanta rescue dog Bleu competes in Puppy Bowl 2023 on Team Ruff

Credit: Jeremy Freeman

Credit: Jeremy Freeman

Don’t be blue for Bleu, the Atlanta rescue dog featured in this Sunday’s 19th annual Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet and other related networks. The adorable Australian Shepherd mix has already been adopted and happily living with a couple in Georgia.

Taped in New York more than four months ago, Puppy Bowl features 122 pups from all over the country “competing” for doggy supremacy between Team Ruff and Team Fluff. The winner gets the “Lombarky” trophy.

Bleu is part of Team Ruff. He was taken from his mommy too soon and the adult who adopted him couldn’t handle his rambunctious nature. So at six weeks old, Beunca Gainor of Furever I Love Atlanta, a rescue group in Bankhead, took him in.

When CARE, an animal rights group that helps local organizations led by people of color, reached out in late September to Gainor for candidates for the Puppy Bowl, Blue fit the bill. He was the right age at the time and received a clean bill of health.

“He was super curious, loved to play,” Gainor said in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He loved the outdoors. He loved going on walks. He was super gentle.kHe has a gorgeous coat. He has one blue eye and one darkish brown. He also has this little manly smirk about him.”

So in early October, they flew to Philadelphia, where CARE was holding a conference, and one of Gainor’s colleagues drove Bleu to upstate New York, where the taping happened.

Gainor, a former animal control officer, has only seen photos and brief videos of Bleu in action but she was impressed by his moves. “He looked like he was having a blast,” she said. “When I picked him up to bring him back to Atlanta, he slept the entire way.”

Credit: CONTRB

Credit: CONTRB

Good news: Bleu was adopted soon after Puppy Bowl. She last saw Bleu around Christmas and said he was thriving. “He has a good family,” she said. “His dad is a truck driver. He had previous dogs. I trusted him.”

Sheila Donya Kouhkan, chief engagement officer for CARE, said the Puppy Bowl gives her a chance to amplify CARE’s messaging, which includes reducing implicit bias against people of color when it comes to pet adoptions and encourage, fund and train minorities in the animal welfare community.

Puppy Bowl will feature a kitty halftime show and for the first time, a puppy red carpet.

This year, the game can be seen not just on Animal Planet but also Discovery Channel, TBS, HBO Max and Discovery+.


“Puppy Bowl XIX,” 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12, Animal Planet, Discovery, TBS, Discovery+, HBO Max