Luna the miniature pinscher may look a little different from the rest of the puppies in this year's Puppy Bowl — but that doesn't slow her down.
Luna will be one of 90 puppies from across the country to be featured in Puppy Bowl XIV, which airs on Animal Planet Feb. 4.
"Luna storms the GEICO gridiron and makes the cutest ear pulls and tail tugs as part of Team Fluff as they compete to win the CHEWY.COM Lombarky Trophy," reads a statement from the Blue Water Area Humane Society.
Katie Phelan, director of the shelter and a licensed veterinary technician, oversaw the birth of Luna and her five siblings in June after their mother was surrendered.
She nominated Luna to be in the Puppy Bowl over the summer, and traveled with her to New York City for the filming in October.
The small puppy was born with a cleft lip and a partial cleft palate. While historically this could lead to euthanization, Phelan had other plans.
"She was a fighter; she deserved a chance and I was going to give her one," she said.
Luna wasn't able to nurse or use a bottle because the liquid would enter her sinus cavity because of the cleft.
For the first few weeks of Luna's life, Phelan placed a tube down Luna's throat and into her stomach every three hours to feed her.
"She got a little cranky about that, not that I'd blame her," Phelan said.
So Phelan designed a new plan. She put on an exam glove with a hole cut in the tip of the finger and put the feeding tube over it, so as Luna would suckle her finger she'd slowly dispense the formula through the tube.
"After all that, I got kind of attached to her," Phelan said.
Luna now lives with Phelan permanently and visits the shelter daily, greeting the animals and volunteers.
Phelan hopes the exposure of Luna's story through the Puppy Bowl will encourage people to adopt.
She said the shelter is at near capacity, with dogs, cats and five rabbits available.
Adoption fees are $40 for rabbits, $150 for dogs and $100 for cats. The shelter is open from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays at 6266 Lapeer Road, Clyde Township. All animals are vaccinated and spayed or neutered.
Phelan said being part of the Puppy Bowl was exciting.
"Pretty surreal ... It was pretty awesome to be able to be a part of it," she said.
She said Luna is doing well and no longer needs to be tube fed.
"She’s playful. She’s already been through puppy kindergarten," Phelan said. "She comes out to work with me every day and greets the dogs and volunteers."
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