The network was created in 1997 by retired advertising executive Dan FitzSimons. FitzSimons and his daughter Molly stated in a featured segment on This American Life that he came up with the idea when he was watching the O.J. Simpson murder case during the daytime and kept flipping through the channels during lulls in the trial only to see nothing was on but game shows, soaps, and reruns. FitzSimons said he thought "Something else is necessary. There's a need for a parking place on television. If you don't want to watch something that is there, you could have the TV set on, and it'd be playing something that didn't bother you, and would hold the place until your favorite show or what you chose to watch." To fill this need, he conceived of a channel that would show "24 hours a day, 7 days a week, footage of puppies fooling around like puppies do, acting the natural comedians and cuties that they are, with no people, no talk, accompanied only by relaxing instrumental music."
At its peak in 1998, The Puppy Channel was seen on four local cable systems around the U.S., before FitzSimons decided to give up in 2001.
The one-hour pilot show that was seen on cable TV is now digitized in DVD form to demonstrate to the TV business the programming concept's interactivity and suitability as video on demand (VOD). In 2001, the dotcom bubble's bursting gave these puppies a long nap in cyberspace, until VOD technology woke them up for new opportunities. Much of the original pilot show's video is currently viewable online at thepuppychannel.com, where people also are invited to upload video of their own pups.