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Meet the local pooch headed to the Puppy Bowl

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Posted at 12:45 PM, Feb 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-04 17:03:52-05

HAMILTON, Ohio -- A 7-month-old Terrier mix will "suit up" for Team Fluff in this Sunday's annual "Puppy Bowl" on  Animal Planet. And "Rugby" just happens to call the Tri-State home.

This is a first for the Butler County-based Animal Friends Human Society.

"We'd never been contacted (about this) before," Animal Friends Operations Manager Tara Bowser told 9 On Your Side.

Bowser said she was contacted by Animal Planet last fall and sent pictures of Rugby, a rescued mixed Terrier, to the cable channel. Soon after, Rugby was one of 48 puppies headed to New York City for this year's taping of the Puppy Bowl. Bowser made the 10-hour drive to New York with Rugby.

"He was a little intimidated at first," Bowser said. "But after a little bit, when he got to know the other puppies, he was fantastic." 

Bowser said Rugby was more interested in the game's referee than the other dogs, explaining that Rugby is a "people dog."

Rugby was in the process of being adopted by Butler County resident Kelsey Barker when he made the trip to the Puppy Bowl. Barker had her eye on another dog at Animal Friends Humane Society. But before she could put her adoption request in, another family adopted that dog. It was then Barker fell in love with Rugby. She calls it fate. And Barker thinks she knows why Rugby was chosen for Puppy Bowl XII

"What their criteria was, I'm not exactly sure," she said. "I think cuteness was a factor".

Neither Bowser nor Barker will say what the outcome of Puppy Bowl XII is. The show was taped in October for playback this Sunday afternoon.

"I do know he made the starting line up," said Barker. "And that's pretty exciting"

Puppy Bowl XII will air this Sunday at 2:30 p.m. on Animal Planet  On Saturday, Rugby will appear at Animal Friends Human Society from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. for pictures and "PAWtographs." The address is 1820 Princeton Road in Hamilton.