Sunny’s one to root for in ‘Dog Bowl III’

  • Leah Carrasquillo, of Southampton, and her dog, Sunny. COURTESY OF LEAH CARRASQUILLO 

  • Sunny, of Southampton, is shown wearing his Dog Bowl bandana. COURTESY ANIMAL PLANET

  • From left to right: Julian, 7, Charlie the dog, Rosalina, 3, Sunny the dog and Gabriel, 9, at home in Southampton.  COURTESY OF LEAH CARRASQUILLO 

Staff Writer
Published: 1/30/2020 11:44:32 PM

SOUTHAMPTON — Upset that the New England Patriots aren’t playing in Sunday’s Super Bowl LIV? Don’t worry, there’s a new athlete from the area who’s making his television debut this weekend — though he may not be who you’d expect.

Viewers can watch Sunny, a rescue dog living in Southampton, play for Team Oldies this Saturday at 8 p.m. on Animal Planet’s “Dog Bowl III.” Similar to the “Puppy Bowl,” which is broadcast on Super Bowl Sunday and features young dogs who are up for adoption, the Dog Bowl raises awareness for 65 adult and senior dogs in need of forever homes by having them play in a mock football game.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to raise awareness for adult rescue dogs that need homes, and not just puppies,” said Sunny’s owner, Leah Carrasquillo, about the Dog Bowl. “It’s something that is close to my heart and I hope I can inspire other people to adopt older dogs.”

Carrasquillo said she and her family adopted Sunny in August from The Sato Project, a New York City animal shelter that rescues abused and abandoned dogs from Puerto Rico. Sunny, like many of the dogs saved by The Sato Project, lived alone for months on “Dead Dog Beach” in Yabucoa, a poor area in southern Puerto Rico that has been hit hard by recent hurricanes and earthquakes. Those natural events cause many families to leave their dogs behind, she said.

“Dogs don’t wander there by accident. Before the project went there, most of the dogs did die,” Carrasquillo said. “Now, most of them leave alive.”

Volunteers with the project go to the beach every day to give abandoned dogs water and food as they wait for a spot on a “Freedom Flight” to the mainland United States where they’re put up for adoption, Carrasquillo said.

Sunny is between 1 and 3 years old, and Carrasquillo is unsure what breed he is. According to her, a producer for Animal Planet who has a relationship with The Sato Project met Sunny before he had a family and thought he would be a good fit for the program.

“He’s just very happy-go-lucky — he’s happy wherever he goes and he’s very sociable,” Carrasquillo said.

According to a press release from Animal Planet, 100 percent of all featured dogs have been adopted. The Dog Bowl will determine which team, Team Oldies or Team Goldies, can score the most touchdowns to win the CHEWY Lombarky trophy. One dog will be given a “Super Senior Award,” and viewers can live vote on Twitter which dog should win “Most Valuable Pooch (MVP).”

Carrasquillo said her husband, Matt, brought Sunny down to Animal Planet’s studios in New York City back in October to record this year’s Dog Bowl. She said Sunny won a free bandana, and “the experience of participating.”

“They run across the field and they pose for pictures,” she said. “It’s a way to raise … goodwill.”

Sunny is the third adult dog Carrasquillo’s family has adopted; they also have a 13-year-old beagle pointer mix rescued from Mississippi named Charlie. Everyone in the family, especially Carrasquillo’s children, 9-year-old Gabriel, 7-year-old Julian and 3-year-old Rosalina, is excited to see their pup become a star.

Michael Connors can be reached at mconnors@gazettenet.com.


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