After surviving a deadly house fire, recovering from a contagious disease, flourishing in foster care and finding home with a family in Oak Park, a shepherd mix puppy will appear in Sunday’s broadcast of Puppy Bowl XVII.
The 9-month-old puppy, formerly known as Foofur, will be featured in a segment during the three-hour Puppy Bowl special airing at 1 p.m. Feb. 7 on Animal Planet and streaming via the Discovery Plus platform.
Hosted by Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart, the Puppy Bowl will see rescue and shelter puppies from northeastern states on Team Ruff and Team Fluff face off for the Chewy Lombarky Trophy.
Meg Gordon, an Oak Park resident who has adopted with PAWS before, said the pandemic and the ability to work from home provided her family with the perfect opportunity to adopt Foofur, who they renamed Rosie.
“She was just so adorable,” Gordon said. “We met her and immediately thought, ‘Oh, yeah, this is the one for us.’ ”
In the incredible tale of an underdog, Rosie was rescued from a house fire in rural Tennessee along with her littermates and brought to PAWS Chicago Medical Center & Lurie Clinic in Little Village to recover from a burn mark on her abdomen.
There, she was diagnosed with parvovirus, a deadly illness that attacks the gastrointestinal system. Sarah McDonald, spokesperson for PAWS Chicago, said after a month of healing at the clinic with an IV, oxygen and supplemental feeding, Rosie was moved to a foster home.
Lake View resident Betsy Moore, who has fostered five dogs through PAWS Chicago, said Rosie was an especially lovable foster puppy.
Moore said her dog Penny, a husky-boxer mix, loved having a foster sibling to run around with and enjoyed teaching Rosie how to play with toys, sleep on the couch and be a dog in the big city.
In October 2020, an Animal Planet crew came to Moore’s house to film a segment for the Puppy Bowl highlight on Rosie adjusting to life in her foster home, including shots of her playing with Penny and cuddling on the couch.
Just a few weeks after filming the Puppy Bowl highlight, Rosie was adopted by the Gordon family.
Once a shy puppy, Rosie is now very sweet, snuggly and social, Gordon said. Rosie’s favorite activities include playing soccer, running in the snow, hiking, rock climbing and coexisting with the family’s two older cats, Shaka and Ciris, she said.
For the Puppy Bowl on Sunday, Gordon said the family is planning a virtual watch party with friends and will celebrate with a peanut butter treat for Rosie.
The Puppy Bowl’s digital campaign will also include Senior Spotlight stories to highlight older dogs “who are ultimately puppies at heart,” according to Animal Planet.
Scoobert, an 8-year-old Chihuahua-boxer mix with medical needs and a “special zest for life,” will be the first dog from Young at Heart Sanctuary in Chicago showcased as part of the Puppy Bowl.
McDonald said PAWS Chicago is able to take in about 5,000 homeless dogs and cats a year through its partnerships with shelters in 13 states.
Over the course of the pandemic, McDonald said interest in adopting and fostering animals has surged. PAWS Chicago has averaged 76 adoptions per week.
Moore said she recommends fostering because it is a win-win situation for the foster parent and the pet.
“It’s great for the animal because it provides a warm, loving environment where they can heal and grow,” Moore said. “While doing that, it opens up another space for an animal to be saved. So you’re really helping save two lives in the process of fostering.”
This is PAWS Chicago’s second time to be part of the Puppy Bowl after one of its puppies made Team Fluff’s starting lineup in 2016. McDonald said she hopes the coverage of the foster program will inspire people from all over the world to consider fostering or adopting a pet from their local shelter.
“It’s such a wonderful way to really showcase the variety of amazing animals that are available at your local shelter,” McDonald said. “They’re just so deserving of a loving home. And I think they reward you with a lifetime of love and companionship.”
Those who want to adopt can visit PAWS Chicago’s website to fill out a compatibility quiz to match them with a pet.