By Patrick Szabo

Loudouners have a couple hometown favorites to cheer for in this year’s Puppy Bowl.

Loudoun dogs Tank and Chunky Monkey will play in Puppy Bowl XVII on Sunday, which will air on Animal Planet at 2 p.m., hours before the Buccaneers take on the Chiefs in Super Bowl LV. Tank is a seven-month-old part Rottweiler and part Labrador from Purcellville playing on Team Ruff. Chunky Monkey is a seven-month-old Chow Chow mix from Leesburg playing on Team Fluff.

In all, there are 69 competitors in this year’s Puppy Bowl, which first aired in 2005 and features all adopted dogs.

Tank, owned by Christine and Ed Ronan, was born in Mississippi on July 4 to a purebred Rottweiler, who served as a seizure service dog, and a purebred Labrador who was a part of the Ducks Unlimited organization. The only surviving pup in his litter, Tank moved to Lancaster, PA at seven weeks old. Just weeks after Ronan adopted him, Animal Planet reached out with news that Tank would be featured in the Puppy Bowl. It’s the first time a dog from Charlie’s Crusaders Pet Rescue has been featured in the game.

Tank is also up against a dog named Marshall for this year’s Pupularity Playoffs contest. Early this week, Ronan said Tank sat at 47% of the vote. Vote for Tank at discovery.com/shows/puppy-bowl/puppy-bowl-xvii/vote.

Chunky Monkey, owned by Rod and Cassandra Asekhauno, was born in Orange County, VA and was rescued by Troy-based Green Dogs Unleashed. A month after adopting Chunky Monkey, the Asekhaunos gave Animal Planet permission to include their new puppy in the game. They said Green Dogs Unleashed had worked with animal Planet on multiple occasions, which is why Chunky Monkey was selected for the nationally televised event.

Although Chunky Monkey didn’t make it past the second round of the Pupularity Playoffs, she’s still one of the most popular dogs in the nation. The Asekhaunos said they were recently contacted by a mother in New Hampshire who told them Chunky Monkey helped her three boys cheer up after struggling to find excitement amid a life of distance learning.

So, the Asekhaunos sent the family photos and messages of Chunky Monkey, which they’ll use to cheer her on during Sunday’s game.

Since both dogs traveled to New York to film the Puppy Bowl, they’ve grown a collective 82 pounds. Chunky Monkey is up from 13 pounds to 22 pounds and Tank is up from 27 pounds to 100 pounds.

“Underneath all that fluff she’s really not that big,” Cassandra Asekhauno said about Chunky Monkey, adding that she expects the dog to grow to 40 pounds.

“[Tank has] got a huge personality,” Ronan said of her dog, adding that she expects Tank to grow another 20 pounds. “He’s going to be a big boy. I call him my gentle giant.”

Christine and Ed Ronan, and their boys Gunnar and Brody, pose with seven-month-old Tank.
Cassandra and Rod Asekhauno, and their boys Cameron and Baylor, pose with Chunky Monkey (far left), their seven-month-old Puppy Bowl star.