The stadium is ready, rosters are set, and fans are excited to cheer. The Super Bowl? Well, yes, Super Bowl LIV takes place this Sunday, but so does the 16th annual Puppy Bowl.
The adorable event will feature 96 puppies from 61 animal shelters. The puppies play inside a miniature Plexiglass stadium fully stocked with toys, including some with cameras inside to give a puppy eye's view of the action. It takes about 100 hours of footage shot over several days to edit into a two-hour program for viewing on Animal Planet and in that time more than 500 doggie treats are consumed, and a lot of peanut butter is used to entice the puppies to lick the fan favorite puppy-kiss cams.
Proving that people can't resist puppies, 100% of the animals who participated in the Puppy Bowl have found homes. The same goes for the kittens featured in the halftime show. Baby animals can have that effect on us and easily elicit oohs and aahs that leave us wanting to care for and protect them. Of course it isn't just animals. Bring a baby into a room and watch the smiles that quickly follow. That is a good thing. A beautiful thing. Babies are precious.
Yet while our concern for animals seems to continue as they grow into mature creatures, the same care doesn't as easily extend to human beings. The welfare of animals can jumpstart big actions in us, but we don't seem to have the same zealousness for our fellow human beings. Something changes in adulthood.
Sometimes it's funny. I can work on a story or column for many hours to varying degrees of response from readers. But take a picture of a dog in front of a Christmas tree and the positive reaction that pours in is staggering. Goodness it is humbling to be upstaged by a St. Bernard! But on the other end of things are consequences far more serious.
We would find it unconscionable to shout obscenities at a snuggling infant, yet profanity laced outbursts at adults let loose from the bleachers at sporting events, or at professionals on the job, or splashed across screens when reacting to an event or individual. Yes, babies are innocent, but those adults were at one time snuggling infants, too. At what point did we go from seeing that little baby as precious, to thinking that adult can now be a punching bag? The baby is vulnerable, but aren't we all vulnerable at times?
On the weekend I saw reports, seemingly unrelated, yet strikingly similar. One featured interviews with those who officiate on fields, diamonds and in arenas in increasingly hostile situations. The abusive language heaped on them, along with slashed tires and keyed cars is causing many to question why they continue to do it.
The second was a look at PTSD among the ranks of those in law enforcement in places where people have declared them the enemy. They then have to go out and protect those calling for their deaths.
The third was an online article analyzing the impeachment proceedings south of the border. I made the mistake of reading posts in the comment section and cringed at the viciousness of what was being said. Without a doubt it is a polarizing issue, but do politicians or lawyers—on either side of the aisle—deserve to be the object of such ferocious attack?
Why do people feel it is okay to act this way? Where does the sense of entitlement come from to lash out at someone who is not that different from ourselves? Years ago that referee, police officer or government official was born and people oohed and aahed over the preciousness of the new baby. Years later, strangers decide it's okay to be incredibly cruel to that same precious life. Oh I know, I know. They deserve it because just look at what they did, right? Well, if we want to continue engaging in sports, or live in safer communities or hope good people will run for public office, we better re-think what we're doing.
There's something about frolicking puppies that brings out a desire to love and protect. Those puppies grow into dogs and we continue to be diligent in our care for them. Isn't the baby that grows into adulthood worthy of the same regard we extend to that animal?
The MVP at last year's Puppy Bowl (yes, they give out a Most Valuable Puppy award), was a Lab/Chow Chow mix named Bumble. The key to civility, kindness and respect for humanity is not that everyone is most valuable, but that everyone is valued. That's my outlook.