A local pup that participated in Puppy Bowl VII in 2011 will be back on the big screen this year to help the annual fido football special celebrate its 20th year.
Jackson Skewis will be inducted into the Puppy Bowl hall of fame along with three other pooches, representing the “senior class” at the ripe old age of 13.5 years.
Owner Beth Skewis, a resident of West End for about a year, fostered Jackson as a puppy when animal advocates deemed his shelter unfit and seized the dogs housed inside it. Shortly after, Puppy Bowl PR sent an email to rescues all over the country looking for puppies to be featured. Jackson just met the cutoff at 11 weeks by the time filming would begin.
Though the small pup was malnourished and missing fur when she first got him, he was nursed back to health.
“We didn’t even know what breed he was but we thought, let’s just submit a photo and see what happens,” says Skewis. Jackson was selected to play. His lineage is still undefined but he now sports a healthy white and brown coat with a fluffy tail.
Just before the episode aired, Beth decided to adopt him.
While he wasn’t MVP in Puppy Bowl VII, Jackson gained some notoriety for his dedication to staying in the endzone and his seemingly endless devotion to the team water bowl.
“He just moseyed around,” laughs Beth.
These days, Jackson still isn’t big on toys.
Since his original 15 minutes of fame, Jackson has had a full career. Beth knew he was special and decided to put him on a path to be a therapy dog. Jackson has since visited hospitals, schools and more. Beth says the dog has even learned to count and can pick out flash card letters and put them in the correct order to form a word. According to Beth, a University of Maryland study equated his intelligence to that of a second grader.
Jackson regularly participates in the Reading Tails program at West End Elementary School, helping children enhance their reading skills by sitting and staying while they sound out words. Jackson participated in the Reading Tails program in multiple schools in Fredericksburg, Virginia, where he and Beth formerly lived.
Members of Community Presbyterian Church may recognize Jackson as a regular attendee, a place Beth says he loves to be.
“I just love everything about him,” she says.
Filming for Puppy Bowl XX happened this past October, in upstate New York. Compared to Puppy Bowl XII it was a much larger space with multiple sets including the arena, an interview set and a hall of fame set.
Jackson got to strut his stuff on a red carpet but you’ll have to wait until it airs to see if he has retained his affinity for water bowls during Puppy Bowl XX, a three-hour special on Animal Planet on Sunday, Feb. 11 at 2 p.m.