Sweetpea Owner Speaks Out As Tiny Dog Honored After Death

Everyone’s favorite bowl game of the year—the Puppy Bowl—returned for the 20th annual matchup on Sunday before Super Bowl LVIII kicked off, and this year’s ruff matchup ended with a special, yet heartbreaking honor.

Sweetpea was the tiniest contestant the Puppy Bowl has ever had, weighing in at 1.7 pounds. At the time of filming, she was about 14 weeks old, and struggling with congenital defects such as hydrocephalus and a hole in her heart, her owner Jennifer Siegel told Newsweek.

But despite the cavapoo’s complications, she was still able to make her way to the Puppy Bowl and into the hearts of all who watched. The game was filmed the first week of October and just a few weeks later, Sweetpea passed. She was 20 weeks old. The game, which is hosted by Animal Planet, decided to dedicate this year’s game to her.

The Puppy Bowl concluded with the following message: “Sweetpea was rescued by a shelter that specializes in helping special needs puppies. Sadly, she was unable to overcome her health issues. We dedicate PuppyBowl XX to her memory.”

For Siegel, her heart has been half empty since Sweetpea’s passing, noting this dog was truly special. But after seeing the beautiful tribute and receiving hundreds of messages with their outpouring of love, her heart is once again full.

Photos of Sweetpea during her trip to the Puppy Bowl. The tiny puppy was interviewed (left) and got to meet the pilot (right) while traveling first-class to film the 2024 Puppy Bowl.

Jennifer Siegel

Siegel has been crying happy tears all day after seeing how many people fell in love with Sweetpea. She’s been going through photos and videos from Sweetpea’s short, but fulfilled life, admiring the fight the tiny dog put in.

Sweetpea still lived an incredible life filled with love, Siegel added. Siegel runs Bosley’s Place Inc., a rescue and nursery exclusively for homeless and orphaned neonatal puppies who are up to 4 weeks old based outside of Atlanta, Georgia, which is why Sweetpea was brought to her at just 2 weeks old.

Instantly, Siegel knew this pup was special. Sweetpea became only the second puppy she’s adopted since she started Bosley’s Place nearly nine and a half years ago. From the moment Siegel brought her in and shared her story, Sweetpea gained a following.

She got the special treatment too, flying first class to New York where they filmed the Puppy Bowl. Sweetpea sat in the pilot’s lap and filmed extra segments with the crew. An executive even wanted to meet the tiny pup, Siegel said.

Siegel was not positive the Puppy Bowl was going to honor Sweetpea, but she had a feeling. Last year Siegel had two puppies enter the puppy bowl and one of those pups, unfortunately, passed after filming and before the game aired. They honored that pup last year as they did for Sweetpea this year.

She wants to send more puppies to next year’s fur-tastic game, but she does not believe she will send one of her rescue pups who are medically challenged.

This year’s Puppy Bowl was the biggest one yet with 131 different puppies representing 73 rescues and shelters across the United States.

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