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2018-01-31 / Front Page

Pooch play: Rescued Midlothian pup takes field at Puppy Bowl

BY BEN ORCUTT CONTRIBUTING WRITER
and TAMURLAINE MELBY MANAGING EDITOR

Luna, aka "Butter" in uniform KEITH BARRACLOUGH Luna, aka "Butter" in uniform KEITH BARRACLOUGH At 3 p.m. on Super Bowl Sunday, at least one Midlothian family will be tuning their TV to the animal channel with the kind of anticipation usually reserved for the big game.

The Metzfields are hoping to catch a glimpse of their favorite athlete on the Animal Planet network’s broadcast of Puppy Bowl XIV. Luna, the family’s 7-month-old terrier/Lab mix, was picked as a member of Team Ruff, which is “competing” against Team Fluff in this year’s Super Bowl-alternative canine spectacle.

“We are definitely going to watch it with friends and family and see if she made the cut and made it on to the actual show,” says Tamara Metzfield.

Luna is a recent addition to the Metzfield family, whose furless members include Tamara and Dennis Metzfield and their three children – 11-year-old Emma, 9-year-old Cora and 7-year-old Charlie. Luna was one in a litter of puppies surrendered with their mother to Hopewell Animal Shelter earlier this year. From there, they were taken in by Sanctuary Rescue, a private, foster-based dog rescue in Midlothian.

The Metzfields are longtime dog owners who recently lost all three of their dogs to old age. They began looking for puppies in need of homes. “Our dogs had really nice long lives with us, and we were really looking for that puppy energy since we have young kids,” Tamara explains. In September, they found Luna on Sanctuary’s website and applied to adopt her. That’s when they found out she had a shot at national fame.

Since 2005, the Puppy Bowl has been spotlighting puppies from shelters and rescues all across the country. Animal Planet reaches out to shelters, seeking playful puppies to go to New York City and be filmed on an indoor miniature football stadium, playing and roughhousing as a human “rufferee” calls touchdowns and penalties. Hours of footage are edited down to create a two-hour, maximum-cuteness aired event complete with commentary.

Luna wasn’t one of the two pups Sanctuary originally planned to send to the Puppy Bowl. But when one of those puppies was adopted by a family that didn’t want to travel to New York, the Metzfields were asked if Luna could accompany her brother, Bob, as “Back-Up Pups” to the game’s starting lineup. Dennis Metzfield’s consulting job often took him to New York on business, so he and Tamara were happy to make the trip with their new puppy in October. “It’s just a great, fun thing to spread the word about all these different rescues,” Tamara says of the event.

Luna and Bob aren’t the first Midlothian pups to play in the Puppy Bowl. This is the third year Sanctuary Rescue has sent dogs to participate, though rescue president Adri Herron says it may be the last, adding, “It’s something fun our volunteers look forward to. It also helps shed a [light] on rescue dogs and adoption… [but] it takes a great deal of resources to get the dogs to New York City for filming.”

Tamara can now be seen on the Animal Planet website answering pre-game questions in a segment called “Pup Quiz.” In addition to being a member of Team Ruff, Luna, who goes by the name Butter onscreen, took a turn at auditioning for a role as a puppy announcer. “We’re kind of hoping that we get to watch her in that spot,” Tamara says.

All of the dogs will be wearing team colors, with Team Ruff in green bandanas with yellow trim and Team Fluff in yellow bandanas with green trim. Even though she accompanied Luna on set, Tamara said she doesn’t know which team won the Puppy Bowl, but is eager to find out. Luna seemed to enjoy the experience, she said.

“I think she was a little overwhelmed with all the puppies and then from traveling,” Tamara said. “She liked to eat a lot of treats there. That was probably her favorite thing.”

A little over three months later, the pups are relaxing back home. Bob, renamed Trooper, is reportedly with his former foster parents, who adopted him. Luna is home with the Metzfields and her new canine siblings, Stella and Roxy, also local rescues. Other family pets include a few fish, a hermit crab and two Madagascar hissing cockroaches.

It turns out Luna isn’t the only screen star in the family; daughter Cora is an actress, and this summer she acted alongside the cockroaches in an indie film in Charlottesville. The film, “Machinery of Dreams,” is in post-production, and the cockroaches found an admirer in their costar and a home in Midlothian, where the children like to hold them and let them race.

“We do not discriminate,” Tamara says of adopting the insects. “They now have a loving home. I just don’t touch them.”

Tamara says she and her family do plan to watch the Philadelphia Eagles play the New England Patriots later on Sunday.

Asked if her family has a favorite in that matchup, Tamara says, “My husband would say the Eagles. I don’t really care. I would actually rather watch the Puppy Bowl more.” |

 

Puppy Bowl XIV airs on Animal Planet on Sunday, Feb. 4, at 3 p.m. eastern time.

 

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