Harnesses and balance beams a plenty on this week’s Greatest American Dog. I have the urge to start chanting "U-S-A" but that might just be my Olympic withdrawal talking…
The five remaining contestants and their owners regroup after Bella Joy and Bella Starlet elimination. Laurie believes there will be less tension in the house now that she’s gone since, you know, she’s a loon. The rest of the housemates agree (well, Travis and Teresa really but I’m sure they all feel the same).
The next morning, Travis and Bill bond over teaching Presley the "I’m embarrassed" trick that Star knows. Travis appreciates that Bill actually takes the time to share his knowledge with him and Bill is equally happy to help. They are adorable. I would totally watch a show if the two of them hosted one.
Dog Bone Challenge: The theme this week is courage, befitting as Jarrod Miller brings out a 9,000 pound African Elephant named Susie. The dogs must sit in the center of a circle within a circle as Susie approaches them at a "very steady pace" from 80 feet away. At 20 feet, she will stop and shake her head in an attempt to distract them. If the dog remains, she will approach and grab a banana from the outer circle. The dog that lets Susie get the closest without leaving the outer circle wins.
Teresa & Leroy are up first. As Susie starts getting closer, Leroy starts barking. Teresa tries to keep him calm but it only sort of works and he steps out around 60-feet or so. Leroy’s bark roughly translates to, "What the *%*(& is that thing?!? This is so not cool." Laurie & Andrew, the last small dog standing, are next. He’s remarkable calm and makes it through the whole ordeal without so much as a peep. Everyone’s impressed. It’s Bill & Star’s turn. She looks pretty calm but moves at the 20 foot mark, partially from curiosity it seems as she moves closer to the elephant from a different angle. It’s Galaxy’s turn and JD says she has a lot of experience around big animals, so she should be okay. Well, not as okay as Andrew. Travis & Presley are the last to go. He looked a little touch and go for a while there but they make it through triumphantly.
It’s time for a tie-breaker. Susie’s going to charge at the dogs while the owners stand a few feet away, their backs to the dogs. The first dog who abandons the "sit position" will be eliminated. Susie made it to about a few feet away before Presley stood up a little. It’s a first win for Andrew & Laurie! Everyone’s impressed, especially Bill.
Laurie starts getting emotional before she even reads the card so the rest of the contestants leave to give her some private time. Travis thinks it’s nice to see a more "human" side to her as opposed to just her competitive side.
Best in Show: The challenge is called "Stunt Dog," designed to test the courage of both the owners and their companions. They get a day to practice for a series of stunts that will be judged on execution, degree of difficulty and fearlessness. The feats performed will include a balance beam, an incline ramp, and a zip line. I’m sorry, wait. A zip line? Geez. Laurie & Andrew’s advantage comes from being able to work with TV & Film animal coordinator/trainer Tom Roche while everyone else must take turns on the different apparatuses while being supervised by professionals.
Travis has been watching JD to pick up some training tips, which JD gives him props for. He’s very smart about that. The big concern for everyone is the zip line. Though Teresa is also concerned with keeping Leroy calm and, most importantly, quiet. Bill is just stoked about Star "flying," something that he shares with everyone else ("The celebration is really gonna start when the orange dog flies."). He really is adorable. I want to pinch his cheeks.
Suffice it to say, the practice equipment is nowhere near as massive as the real thing. Each stage has a easy/difficult path…except the zip line which is just one level of high. The owner will be harnessed, as will their dog, and traverse the obstacle first before calling their companions.
JD starts out by choosing to take Galaxy up the more difficult red ramp and across the red balance beam. During practice, he chose to get her accustomed to the harness and being momentarily suspended in the air, but never had her actually do that stunt fearing she wouldn’t be able to do it at all. But to her credit, she did every stunt without hesitation.
Teresa & Leroy go next. She chooses the red paths as well with minimal barking from Leroy. Well, until they get to the zip line. After some hesitation and protest, Leroy finally takes the leap and all is well.
Bill is the first to take the easier blue ramp because the incline would be too severe for Star the other way. He does choose the red balance beam, but Star is having none of the zip line. Bill is proud though a little disappointed.
Travis & Presley take the red paths as well and have no problems with the big jump at the end. Last to go is Laurie & Andrew. I like the jaunty music they begin to play as Andrew heads up the blue ramp. The tiny guy tackles the red beam with no issue but he hesitates at the jump. Laurie calls it when she figures out he won’t do it.
The judges seem most impressed by JD & Galaxy, praising the fun way in which they attacked the whole course. Travis is criticized a bit for getting Presley worked up right before the jump and for not exactly being able to control his energy. Laurie and Bill are both in a little bit of trouble since their dogs didn’t go down the zip lines. Before they leave the judges remark that it’ll be difficult to send someone home since all the dogs did such a good job.
Back at the house, JD notices Galaxy is limping. Oh no!
A trainer comes out and checks out the nine-year old. The injury is in the joint of her front right shoulder. The trainer says it’s probably a muscle strain and not "life or death" level, much to JD’s relief.
When the contestants come out to hear the results, they notice Galaxy’s limp. JD explains and says he’s going to take her to a vet and get her looked at proper. On the bright side, JD & Galaxy get Best in Show while Laurie & Andrew, Bill & Star, and Travis & Presley end up in the bottom. Unfortunately, it’s Bill & Star’s time to go home. The judges are extremely saddened as are the remaining contestants. Victoria calls out, "We love you, Bill" as they take their last lap around the room.
Should Bill & Star have been eliminated? How awesome is little Andrew for being so nonplussed by that huge elephant? Any other thoughts about the episode?