BOSTON, Ky. (WDRB) -- To be an elite athlete, you have to be rough, you have to be tough, and you have to have fluff, a least when it comes to the "Puppy Bowl."

Barktown Rescue is a four-peat at the annual competition, not quite a Tom Brady record, but a good streak for this no-kill rescue in Nelson County. 'We auditioned six, four from one litter and then Rowdy and Harley," said director Heather Nelson.

Harley, a beagle pup, and Rowdy, a mix breed dog, represented Barktown at the annual Animal Planet showdown. After four years of "Puppy Bowl" appearances, Nelson knows what it takes to choose a winner.

"Whether they're feisty or we don't necessarily go by looks. Just their personality of whether we think they would do well at the Puppy Bowl because it can get overwhelming," said Nelson.

Nelson and her staff load up the puppies when they're just a few weeks old and drive all the way to New York City for the competition, which is actually filmed in October. Rowdy and Harley got the VIP treatment, which included walks in Times Square and a look out spot in the Big Apple. Then it's on to the big game full of rumbles, tumbles, treats and toys.

"Obviously the reason it's not live is because there are messes they have to clean up and things like that. That's the cool part about it. You get to see all the socialization and the fun that they're having," said Nelson.

Sports Illustrated even featured Rowdy in a story. "He went in for a little Sports Illustrated interview. They mentioned how he's a lover on and off the field. But that's kind of how they got the attention of Sports Illustrated. But he was so cute throughout the whole thing," said Nelson.

The teams of 90 adoptable dogs compete to see who can make it to the end-zone. Adorable, yes, but the ultimate goal is a chance to win a spot in a loving home with an adoring family.

"The primary reason is to help promote not just our rescue, but rescues throughout the United States and make everyone aware of adoption," said Nelson.

Fresh off his rookie season, Rowdy has a joined a new team, the Matthews family. "We were looking on websites on adopting a puppy and then we found Rowdy," said Caroline Matthews, who adopted the puppy.

They didn't know about his "Puppy Bowl" fame before choosing him, but they're not surprised he made the team. "I'd put him as a wide receiver definitely just because he's quick and fast," said Patrick Matthews.

They're excited the see if Team Ruff or Team Fluff comes away with the victory and say Rowdy will always be a winner to them. "I've never watched it so it's just exciting just to see the whole thing," said Patrick.

The "Puppy Bowl" is on Sunday at 3 p.m. on Animal Planet.

If you want to cheer on the pups from Barktown Rescue during the "Puppy Bowl," a viewing party will be held this at Mammy's Kitchen in Bardstown. That's from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and 10 percent of the sales will go to the Barktown Rescue.

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