CHICAGO — Cooper the Great Pyrenees/collie mix will represent PAWS Chicago in the Puppy Bowl this year.
Cooper, who is 15 weeks old, is a starter for Team Fluff. Cooper's team will face Team Ruff (we're not kidding) in Puppy Bowl XII, and he's the most-drafted pup in the Puppy Bowl Fantasy Game.
Cooper might also be named the "Most Valuable Puppy," though fans won't know if he's an official contender until the third quarter of the game. If Cooper is selected, viewers will be able to vote online to help him win before the end of the game.
Cooper came to Chicago from Tennessee, where he was rescued with five brothers and sisters. PAWS has saved more than 1,000 dogs by bringing them in from shelters in Tennessee, Oklahoma and other states, said spokeswoman Sarah McDonald.
PAWS will also be represented by Athena, a 19-week-old American Bulldog mix. Athena, who was rescued from Chicago Animal Care and Control with her mom and brothers and sisters, will serve on the second string.
"Both Athena and Cooper are very social and love to play, so we knew they’d have fun participating in the Puppy Bowl," McDonald said.
Cooper and Athen have been adopted since they were chosen for the Puppy Bowl, but all of the players for the Fluff and Ruff teams come from animal shelters across the United States. McDonald said PAWS participated because the event showcases "the amazing variety of puppies" available at local no-kill shelter.
The Puppy Bowl starts 2 p.m. Feb. 7 on Animal Planet.