There’s a doggone good reason to watch TV on Super Bowl Sunday, even if you’re not a football fan — or still bitter about the Rams.
St. Louis may not have a home team anymore, but we do have a dog in this fight -- an actual dog, from Wentzville, who’ll take the field in the Animal Planet channel’s annual “Puppy Bowl” on Sunday afternoon.
Ellie is among 80 pups chosen from among hundreds of dogs nationwide. She’s a 6-month-old bulldog, boxer and pit bull mix who was born at St. Louis’ Stray Rescue shelter, after her pregnant mother arrived there.
Randy Grim founded Stray Rescue, 320 Pine St., nearly 20 years ago. Since then, the organization has rescued thousands of dogs.
Grim said he doesn’t often see one who so perfectly matches the qualities the annual Puppy Bowl looks for. His description almost sounds like the perfect puppy online dating profile.
“She's photogenic. She’s active, curious [and] loved playing with other puppies,” Grim said. "When they chose her, we were so excited."
Kayla Hatfield was already set to adopt Ellie, originally named Puddin’ Pop, when the dog went to her New York taping in October. After Ellie returned from her adventures in the Big Apple, Hatfield and her husband took her home to Wentzville.
Now Hatfield talks like the proud parent of a mischievous kid.
“She scored a field goal ... but she also got a penalty for roughhousing, which is appropriate because she’s on Team Ruff,” Hatfield said.
Ellie’s story is a tale of success. But many other Stray Rescue dogs also go to good homes, said Grim.
The best news, according to Grim, is that he’s noticed fewer stray dogs coming in during the past six months — as much as a 15 percent drop.
“We’ve been able to really start getting it under control,” Grim said. “I’m not saying that there isn’t a problem. But there used to be a time where there were strays on every street corner.”
Spay/neuter programs making a difference
Grim said reasons for the decrease in stray dogs include the availability of low-cost and free neutering and spaying. These procedures are included in Stray Rescue’s $100 adoption fee, along with vaccinations, micro-chipping and a year of free training.
"Part of it is about education,” Grim said. “People are becoming more responsible.”
The Humane Society of Missouri credits its free Operation City SNIP spay/neuter program for a leveling-off of the number of dogs and cats coming in. Adoptions from the main headquarters, 1201 Macklind Ave, cost $110 for dogs and cats and include vaccines, spaying/neutering and micro-chipping. Fees are negotiable at other Humane Society locations, and special prices are available at all sites for pit bulls and cats 6 months and older.
The 7-year-old Tenth Life cat shelter, 3232 Cherokee St., has not seen a drop in the number of calls requesting shelter. There, adoption costs $100 for cats older than 6 months and $125 for younger kittens. There’s a $50 discount for pairs, and all prices include the same services as those provided by the Humane Society.
The Animal House cat shelter, 2151 59th St., has also seen requests continue at a steady level. Animal House charges $125 for the customary adoption package.
These organizations place their cats and dogs in foster homes, except for Animal House, which has volunteers socialize with the cats on site to make sure they’re ready for adoption.
Grim said sheltered animals make excellent pets who bring good feelings into a home.
“There’s nothing like knowing you rescued a dog from a shelter,” Grim said. “You change that dog’s life forever and it opens up another spot at the shelter, so we can save another one.”
Ellie will be on hand at a "Puppy Bowl" watch party Sunday afternoon from 1:30-3:30 p.m. at Sybergs restaurant, 2211 Market St. Sybergs will donate 25 percent of proceeds to Stray Rescue.
The Art Bar, 2732 Cherokee St., is holding a "Puppy Bowl" potluck with 20 percent of profits going to Stray Rescue, and is accepting donations from the dog organization’s wish list.
Cat people: The "Puppy Bowl" includes a kitty half-time show. No word yet on whether it will include live "mew-sic."
Follow the adventures of Ellie aka Puddin’ Pop in New York during her “Puppy Bowl” taping.
Follow Nancy Fowler on Twitter: @NancyFowlerSTL