If you tuned into the Super Bowl last night, you were one of approximately 118,000,000 people. If you tuned into the Puppy Bowl on Animal Planet at any time yesterday, you were one of approximately 7,000,000 people. Not even close, in terms of viewers--but enough to make the Puppy Bowl the #1 rated cable show of the night.

I did spend more time on the Super Bowl than I did with the puppy equivalent, but to be honest, given the choice, I'd rather hang with the dogs than with NFL players. It's gotta be safer.

Thanks to my daughter Molly, we've been a Puppy Bowl household ever since she was old enough to work a TV remote control. It used to be that every year, following the Puppy Bowl, I had to come up with at least half a dozen reasons why 1) our dog couldn't be in the Puppy Bowl, and 2) we couldn't adopt 2 or 3 of the dogs who played the game. Now that Molly is almost 20, I only need two or three reasons.

Anyway, for those who are fans, here are a few things from MentalFloss that you may not have known about the Puppy Bowl:

  • That long-running holiday television special that featured nothing more than the image of a log burning in a fireplace with Christmas music playing in the background is what inspired the Puppy Bowl. And its broadcast debut, back in 2005, was a much less elaborate affair, comprised mainly of copious amounts of footage of puppies playing. But it did feature the game’s very first Unsportsmanlike Delay of Game penalty, issued to a pup named Riley for, in the announcer’s words, deciding to “use the field as his own personal bathroom.”
  • Puppy Bowl X scored huge ratings; a total of 13.5 million tuned in throughout the 12-hour canine extravaganza, making Puppy Bowl the most watched cable program during 2014's Super Bowl Sunday and the second most watched show in all of television that night (second only to some football game playing on Fox). Though the total number of viewers dipped in 2016, it was still enough to make last year's Puppy Bowl the most watched cable show that night.
  • Puppies will be puppies. And puppies don’t always play fair. In addition to a veterinarian, who is on the set throughout the program’s production, representatives from the Humane Society and each of the shelters whose dogs are being featured are on hand to ensure the safety of the competitors. This includes giving the puppies a break from the lights, camera and action every 30 minutes. For the 2017 event, puppies from 34 shelters and rescue groups from 22 states and Puerto Rico will be represented.
  • Puppy Bowl is not a live broadcast. It’s shot over the course of two days in October. “That element takes people aback,” admits Schachner. But the reason why is totally understandable. “It’s three months of preparation because it’s two full days of shooting,” continues Schachner. “Plus it’s 21 cameras on the field. So that’s a lot of footage to edit and turn into a two-hour show.”
  • Cleaning up after the game’s not-always-housebroken competitors is part of the ref’s job. But Schachner says that the biggest misconception about his role is that “I’m picking up poop and pee all the time. [People] forget that there’s an amazing grounds crew here on staff. They’re like little elves who come in and magically erase all the pet poop that’s left on the field so that when the game is actually playing and those cameras are rolling, you’re not going to see too many fouls. You’ll see a couple, but you’re not going to see too much of puppies doing what comes naturally to them!”

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