Ollie wins ‘Lombarky’ trophy

Published 4:21 pm Tuesday, February 13, 2024

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While millions of people from around the world were glued to their TV sets Sunday evening for Super Bowl LVIII, there was another sports spectacle earlier on Feb. 11 that featured a local “player.”

Team Ruff met Team Fluff in the 20th annual Puppy Bowl, which aired on Animal Planet. The event mimics a football game, complete with announcers. All of the “players” are from shelters. The program is designed to raise awareness about adopting pets and rescuing abandoned animals.

One of the puppies participating in this year’s game was Ollie, who was rescued by the Humane Society of the United States along with more than 100 other dogs from a breeding operation in Hertford County in May 2023.

There, local law enforcement, assisted by the Humane Society, stated that conditions on the property where Ollie was found were as filthy as they were bleak. Dogs were found wading into a murky green puddle to try to quench their thirst. Some dogs were severely emaciated and needed veterinary care for heartworm and other parasites.

In-depth exams revealed BB gun pellets embedded in the skin of several dogs. Pregnant mother dogs and puppies ranging from days to weeks old roamed throughout the property.

Ollie, like many of the dogs found on the property, faced a long road to recovery. His limbs were severely bowed; he was eventually diagnosed with rickets, a rare and often painful disease in young animals that causes soft and deformed bones, commonly caused by dietary insufficiencies.

Following the rescue operation, the dogs were transferred to the Humane Society shelter and rescue partners for placement. Ollie went to Green Dogs Unleashed, a rescue based in Troy, Virginia.

Soon after being selected for the Puppy Bowl, Ollie was adopted by a loving family. Anne and her husband saw Ollie’s photo and immediately said, “It’s him. We need him.”

Ollie enjoys life in his loving, adopted home. Ollie is one of 114 dogs rescued in Hertford County by the Humane Society of the United States. Photo by Anne Figueroa

“Ollie’s transformation to beloved family dog has been remarkable. Green Dogs Unleashed helped him heal from rickets. And now Ollie is happy and healthy, enjoying spending his days birdwatching with his feline brother,” said Humane Society officials in a press release.

“He was on his way to having a very rough life,” Anne said. “We’re blessed that he was too young to really remember anything that happened there. He doesn’t have any of the major trauma responses that other dogs have.”

“These happy endings, and the spotlight the Puppy Bowl puts on adoption and rescue are critical as shelters and rescues across the country navigate an overpopulation crisis,” said Kitty Block, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. “Supporting these efforts any way you can, through adoption, fostering, volunteering or donating, is a game changer for animals and the people so dedicated to finding them homes.”

The 2024 Puppy Bowl was the biggest yet, featuring 131 puppies from 73 shelters and rescues across 36 states and territories – including the all-time smallest pup, Sweetpea, at 1.7 pounds, and the biggest, Levi the Great Dane at 70 pounds.

In an exhilarating match, Ollie and his Team Ruff ‘mates triumphed over Team Fluff by a final score of 72-69, as the furry athletes scored touchdowns by dragging chew toys into the end zone.