LOXAHATCHEE — Mr. Bean, a papillon puppy with fluffy ears and tail, arrived last year as a stray at Palm Beach County Animal Control. He was missing his fore legs and couldn’t walk.
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This year, Mr. Bean will represent Florida in the 20th annual Puppy Bowl.
“He taught himself how to walk,” said Elizabeth Accomando, who took in Mr. Bean at her Barky Pines Animal Rescue and Sanctuary in Loxahatchee. “Now, no linebacker can stop him from reaching the end zone.”
Mr. Bean, who is now almost 2 years old, will be on the big screen on Feb. 11 for the Puppy Bowl XX, a televised event aired on Super Bowl Sunday.
What is the Puppy Bowl 24?
The Puppy Bowl is an annual televised program by Animal Planet to raise awareness about adopting pets from shelters and rescuing abandoned animals.
The event is held in a dog-sized football field stadium measuring 19 feet long by 10 feet wide with 131 dogs from 73 shelters across the country. The game will feature two opposing sides — Team Ruff and Team Fluff — that will play a game resembling a football match except there is a human “rufferee” keeping score as the dogs drag football-shaped toys into the end zone for a “puppy touchdown.”
For this year’s 20th edition, there will be six dogs with special needs competing, including Mr. Bean.
“It’s not really about winning or losing,” Accomando said. “It’s about just showing them off and incentivizing adoption.”
Who is Mr. Bean and how is this dog in Puppy Bowl XX?
Last year, Accomando received a call from Palm Beach County Animal Control. They had received a special-needs dog, Mr. Bean, and their kennels were full. They asked Accomando if her rescue shelter, which takes in animals from the county to prevent them from being euthanized and fosters them until they find a forever home, could help.
Mr. Bean, who was still a puppy, was missing both of his front legs and couldn’t walk. Veterinarians realized he had shoulder joints, but the bones of his legs never developed.
At first, Mr. Bean would stay wrapped in his blanket looking at other dogs playing. After a week, Accomando said, he began crawling and the staff would carry him around to get food and water.
A month later, Mr. Bean stood on his back legs for the first time. He began leaning on walls and over the other dogs to raise and push himself forward. Now, Accomando said, he walks independently using his rear legs and joins other dogs at play.
“At the beginning I expected him to be immobile,” Accomando said. “At first he was kind of hopping but then, he started walking on his own.”
Mr. Bean completes Wellington family
Last February, Mr. Bean found his forever home.
Dasha Melgarejo, 27, a Wellington resident and horse jumper, adopted Mr. Bean after a friend, who had also adopted a dog from Barky Pines, showed her a picture of him. She drove to Barky Pines with her mother, Dorothy Melgarejo, and they fell in love with the pup that wouldn’t stop trying to balance his body on two legs.
“He’s a fighter,” Melgarejo said. “Any obstacle is not an obstacle for him. He just figures it out.”
Melgarejo already had two other adopted dogs at home that brought toys and blankets to Mr. Bean when he arrived at the Wellington home.
“They realized the way to play with Mr. Bean,” Melgarejo said. “They’ll lay on their back and wait for Mr. Bean to body slam them.”
Melgarejo describes Mr. Bean as a loving dog who enjoys licking people’s noses but who is also protective, even of her mother.
“He completed our home,” Dorothy added.
Loxahatchee rescue on a mission to save dogs from being euthanized
Accomando opened Barky Pines Animal Rescue and Sanctuary 10 years ago.
First, she fostered dogs with her husband and sister in a house in The Acreage. In 2016 they purchased five-acres in Santa Rosa Groves where they receive farm animals and, since last year, offer low-cost veterinarian services.
“Our mission is specifically to save the dogs from the county shelter, so they don’t get put down,” Accomando said. “Especially special needs dogs.”
Melgarejo said people should consider adopting locally before paying a dog breeder for a “perfect dog.”
“There are so many dogs that need homes that, unfortunately, aren’t given the chance to live a full and happy life,” Melgarejo said. “Adopt, it’s the most rewarding thing and they appreciate you and your family.”
When is Puppy Bowl 2024 and how to watch during Super Bowl XX
The Puppy Bowl XX will air on Feb. 11 at 2 p.m. on Animal Planet, Discovery, Discovery +, TBS, TruTv and Max.
To vote for your Mr. Bean visit vote daily to make sure your favorite player is crowned “Most Valuable Puppy.”
Valentina Palm covers Royal Palm Beach, Wellington, Loxahatchee and other western communities in Palm Beach County for The Palm Beach Post. Email her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ValenPalmB. Support local journalism: Subscribe today.