In November 2011, the New York Times did an in-depth story that asked the question, "Can the Bulldog Be Saved?" It looked at issues such as how inbreeding and breeding for “extreme traits" were leading to medical complications.

HBO's Real Sports takes a fresh look at this situation, particularly as it relates the realm of competitive dog shows. It is part of an episode that premieres Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET/PT Tuesday. Here's a preview:

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Even in his most casual moments, Jim Harbaugh cannot help but bring out his competitive spirit.

During a recent trip to Six Flags Discovery Kingdom outside San Francisco, Harbaugh faced off against Siku, a 1,750-pound female Pacific walrus, in a pushup challenge.

Shockingly, Harbaugh isn't wearing khaki pants and a 49ers hat, but everything else about this video aligns with the man we've come to know and love for his boundless intensity on the sidelines and his still-impressive physique.

According to reports, Harbaugh also got a kiss from a sea lion, bottle-fed a tiger and met an elephant.

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If you're going to kiss on alligator on the lips, it's a good idea to make sure its mouth is taped shut.

Detroit Tigers outfielder Torii Hunter did just that before delivering a smooch to an alligator on a dare from teammate Justin Verlander.

Hunter posted the photo on Instagram along with the following caption:

"My homey @justinverlander dared me to kiss an alligator. #defeatmyfear #stillfearit #madeboots"

Even though the alligator's mouth is taped shut, give Hunter credit for still getting this close. Apparently he's got a fear of alligators, so this is a pretty significant hurdle for him to overcome.

Justin Verlander, it seems, is having the time of his life at spring training. He's driving luxury cars to workouts, hanging out with his supermodel girlfriend and dishing out dares to teammates. And, oh yeah, he'll be making his first start of the spring on Thursday.

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During the past year Russell Wilson has captivated fans in Seattle, brought the city its first major championship since 1979 and, perhaps less notably but still importantly, joined the search for a missing dog.

What more could this guy do to endear himself to the Emerald City?

The folks at the Facebook page "Lost & Found Pets Wa State" posted a story about how a dog named Panda went missing at a Seattle-area dog park. Wilson and his wife happened to be at the park and they got involved with the search for poor Panda.

The dog was eventually found at 2:30 a.m., thanks to a bit of food coaxing.

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Tampa Bay Rays pitcher Alex Cobb had a little help in proposing to his fiancee, Kelly Reynolds.

During a trip to Discovery Cove in Orlando, Cobb used a dolphin to pose the question to Reynolds. One can imagine her surprise upon seeing the animal swim up to her with a buoy in its mouth that read, "Kelly, will you marry me?" Reynolds loved the gesture.

After exiting the pool, Cobb got down on one knee and proposed in the traditional fashion.

It's been a whirlwind year for Cobb, who was struck by a line drive in a game on June 15, 2013. He suffered a concussion and a cut on his right ear. He missed two months of action and returned to help push the Rays into the playoffs.

Even though he was out for an extended period of time, Cobb had a very productive season. He recorded a career-low 2.76 ERA to go along with career-highs in innings pitched (143.1) and strikeouts (134).

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The Cleveland Browns' front office isn't the only part of the franchise that will start the 2014 season with a new look.

The team's star receiver, Josh Gordon, recently revealed a massive new back tattoo. Gordon, who had a breakout year in 2013 with 87 receptions for an NFL-leading 1,646 yards, posted this photo to his Instagram page:

Gordon added the caption "A representation of yourself.. It's a lifestyle" and the hashtags "#almostdone #koi #blasted."

The tattoo only appears to be half done, presumably Gordon will get the right half of the design colored in as well. The 22-year-old Gordon got the tattoo done in Miami, and despite what you may think, he says it didn't really hurt.

Gordon should hope he stays on the Browns for a while, or is able to keep No. 12 wherever he goes, because even if getting the tattoo didn't hurt, getting it removed probably would.

No one had more fun watching the Australian Open than this golden retriever puppy named George.

In a video uploaded to YouTube by a user named Bearaids, the young dog adorably jumps around in excitement during the points of what appears to be the women's final between Li Na and Dominika Cibulkova.

As you'll notice, George appears to settle down between points, but when the camera goes to the wide angle of the court, he immediately starts jumping around. Perhaps his excitement has something to do with watching the ball fly around the court.

This got us thinking -- if dogs could be trained well enough, they'd make pretty good ball boys at tennis tournaments.

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No matter how stressful Lovie Smith's first year is in Tampa Bay, and judging by the Buccaneers' recent struggles it might be pretty tough, the 55-year-old head coach can sleep easy knowing he won't have to defend his family from vicious animals at night.

In a recent interview, the former Bears and new Bucs coach discussed a "vacation" he took with his family to Costa Rica. After getting fired by Chicago, where he had spent eight years and took the Bears to a Super Bowl, Smith wanted to get away. So he took his family to a remote village in Costa Rica. And we'll let him take it from there:

"First couple of days we were there, we heard some little small, white-faced monkeys. About Day 6, we heard the howling monkeys. Day 8, we had the back door open, and they come in. A few days before, you think you're ready to take on anything to protect your wife, my son (Mikale) said 'Dad, a monkey is four times stronger than a man, so be careful.' So about that time, I kept a machete in the back just in case. You're out in the rain forest and I had my wife there. About Day 9, I had barbecued a little bit earlier in the day. I look up, and there are two big male monkeys standing up on the table with their teeth showing. I thought 'OK, this is not going to end well.'"

"Anyway, I got a broom. I didn't have to really kill one of the monkeys. I pushed him out of the house and we packed up that day and got out. That's a true story. I had the machete. I was ready. Have you ever heard a howling monkey? No one here, I guess you've been in Tampa most of your life. They're kind of a terrifying sound. I didn't have to kill any monkeys and we were able to get out of there. We left on Day 9 of a 50-day stay. Mary Anne said 'OK, let's go somewhere else, we've got a little bit of time.' I said 'Hey. We're going to Tampa.' We're down on the beach down here, spent a little bit of our time down here."

"As it turned out, I thought it was going to end a little bit differently than it did, to say the least. We got out of it alive."

Sounds like a nightmare for many and a dream trip for Detroit Lions linebacker DeAndre Levy.

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If your fantasy football team underperformed this year, fear not. The Puppy Bowl is here to help.

The annual Super Bowl halftime show featuring a group of adorable young dogs is adding some neat features to this year's game, including a fantasy football component. According to Entertainment Weekly, later this month the Animal Planet, the network that televises the Puppy Bowl, will launch a fantasy draft where fans can see profiles of 11 of the 66 competitors and compile an all-star team. Interested parties can find the draft at

To read up on some of the game's competitors, see here.

In addition to this new fantasy element, Puppy Bowl X will also have interactive MVP voting and feature several "celebrity" cameos from cats that have gained enormous internet followings.

Thanks in part to the brief power blackout at last year's Super Bowl, the Puppy Bowl drew a record 12.4 million viewers.

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Dedicated readers of this blog might remember the classically cute confrontation of a kitten and rabbit sparring against each other. Now here is another installment of Mixed Animal Martial Arts. In this case, it is feline vs. canine, and kitty gets the upper paw by clamping on the sleeper hold. (Does the dog attempt to tap out or is it just flailing?)

Cat, Dogs
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