The 2024 Puppy Bowl Was Dedicated to Sweetpea, the Smallest Player Ever

The Puppy Bowl is filmed in October, months ahead of when it airs opposite the Super Bowl. Sweetpea was a special needs puppy.

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Feb. 12 2024, Published 9:49 a.m. ET

Every year, an entire contingent of Americans decide that the Super Bowl isn't actually all that interesting, and they'd rather watch puppies being cute. That's where the Puppy Bowl comes in, and the annual tradition that it spawned has now been going on for 20 years.

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Ahead of this year's installment, though, many saw that Puppy Bowl XX had been dedicated to a Cavapoo named Sweetpea. After seeing the dedication, many wanted to better understand what happened to Sweetpea, who was the smallest dog in the history of the competition.

Two dogs playing at Puppy Bowl XVI.
Source: Getty Images
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What happened to Sweetpea from the 2024 Puppy Bowl?

According to a post from Animal Planet, Sweetpea unfortunately died following the filming of this year's puppy bowl.

"Sweetpea was rescued by a shelter that specializes in helping special needs puppies. Sadly, she was unable to overcome her health issues. We dedicate #PuppyBowl XX to her memory," the post explained. Not much additional information is available on the exact circumstances around Sweetpea's death.

Those who watched the Puppy Bowl were saddened by the news, saying that they had been cheering for Sweetpea during the games.

"Oh my goodness this makes me so sad. She was my favorite of the Puppy Bowl," one person wrote in response to the news.

"Oh no! We were cheering so hard for her sweetheart. Feeling absolutely gutted but know she is happy at the rainbow bridge and in good health and able to play," another person added.

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The Puppy Bowl is designed to promote adoption.

Those who watch the Puppy Bowl every year likely do so in part because of the panoply of adorable animals that are available for adoption. That's really the point of the event, which has the ultimate goal of encouraging more people to adopt puppies instead of purchasing them from breeders. Sometimes, as was the case with Sweetpea, the puppies need extra care and attention, and part of the brilliance of the Puppy Bowl is the way it highlights each dog's individuality.

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The Puppy Bowl is usually filmed in October.

Unlike the Super Bowl, which airs live each year in February, the Puppy Bowl is shot and edited in October of the previous year, months before the big game takes place. That's why Sweetpea was able to compete in the games even though she died before the Puppy Bowl aired.

Veterinarians are always on hand during the games to ensure that no dogs are hurt during the filming, and it apparently takes several days to compile all of the needed footage.

It may be a lot of work, but it's clear that there's a pretty large audience out there who just wants to watch puppies be cute with one another. Of course, because the Puppy Bowl is a little more carefully edited, the games can sometimes be a little bit closer than they might otherwise be.

This year's Puppy Bowl came with a twinge of sadness, but there are plenty of people who love the annual broadcast precisely because it spends so much time honoring dogs that need a home.

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