'Greatest American Dog': Carrots, sticks, and PUPPIES!

Jd_galaxy_gad_240 Puppies, you guys. Puppies. Tonight's episode of Greatest American Dog made me wonder if the only thing normally keeping me from loving this show (or any show, for that matter) is the lack of puppies. Seriously, they bump it up at least one letter grade. (Cute, fluffy spoilers ahead...)

Beth Joy is appropriately grateful to Travis for standing up for her during last week's judging, but apparently Bella Starlet didn't get the memo--she growls and nips at a surprised Travis the next morning. Her reign of terror continues as she snaps at other dogs, patrolling the yard in her hot pink collar and tiny pony tail. Beth Joy doesn't find it as hilarious as I do, unfortunately, crying that people will think Bella Starlet is "mean." You know, Beth Joy is clearly waaay out there, but I at least have to give her props for having the only rescue dog in the competition.

Dog Bone Challenge: "The Big Dig," in which dogs simulate a rescue situation in teams, performing a digging task to rescue an owner in a box. Teresa is disappointed to be working with Beth Joy and Bella Starlet, and rightfully so, since they run out of time before Bella even starts digging. Laurie is similarly unhappy to be working with JD, since they have very different carrot vs. stick training philosophies. And for the record, I'm with Laurie on this one in theory--physically dominating your dog is almost always unnecessary, and scaring your dog is never cool. That said, I haven't noticed JD doing anything horribly objectionable, and they end up doing really well in the challenge.

Travis is understandably psyched to work with Bill, and the dynamic duo win the Dog Bone Challenge and get to talk to their loved ones. Travis calls his mom, which is totally adorable, and Bill is thrilled to be able to speak with his wife. 

Best in Show: "The Maze," in which dogs and owners are stationed on opposite sides of a huge hedge maze, and owners have to verbally guide their dogs through it. Oh, and puppies. PUPPIES!!!!!! Each dog also has to lead three adorable golden retriever puppies out of the maze, and judges will be looking at how well the owners help their dogs to work with the puppies. Bill and Travis get a chance to get their dogs and puppies used to each other ahead of time. They choose not to tell anyone else about the leg up, which causes some tension in the house.

God, how badly do I want a puppy right now? SO BADLY. Hopefully those cuties didn't come from a puppy mill, though. If you watched tonight's episode and decided that you absolutely have to have a golden retriever puppy (which is totally understandable), please don't buy from a pet store or website--use Petfinder.com to find an adoptable puppy near you. Ok, PSA over. Sorry guys, it's just an issue I'm pretty passionate about, and I'm frustrated that the show isn't using its great platform to help dogkind.

JD is up first, and he and Galaxy do a great job, leading the puppies out almost effortlessly. Wendy thinks he and Galaxy both did an outstanding job, but Victoria dings him for "medieval" negative training methods, leading to a screaming match between the two judges that gets pretty personal (Allan sits it out). Victoria is almost crying at the end, until Wendy steps up and talks about how knowledgeable and impressive Victoria is, so they very maturely decide to agree to disagree.

Bill_star_gad_240 Star isn't as good with the puppies, and gets tired out when Bill's strategy doesn't conserve her energy very well. Ruh-roh. The judges think he pushed Star way too hard, and were really disappointed in Bill. Ha, Andrew is actually smaller than his puppies. It's adorable. Laurie keeps it really positive, but runs out of time with only one puppy out of the maze. The judges love her energy, but are concerned that Andrew nipped one of the more rambunctious puppies.

Bella Starlet doesn't get along with the puppies very well, unfortunately. She also has trouble finding her way out of the maze, despite Beth Joy's high-pitched shrieks. The judges thought Bella was stressed, resulting in an overwhelming desire to get to Beth Joy. Presley tears his way through the maze, and Travis isn't very successful at slowing him down enough to allow the puppies to follow. God, those puppies are adorable. The judges think Presley showed no patience, and that Travis's energy kept him from focusing on the puppies. Teresa tries to keep it low-key for excitable Leroy's sake, and Leroy's border collie instincts take over--he's such a puppy magnet that they all follow him right through on the first try. It's awesome. The judges are thrilled.

Teresa and Leroy are named Best in Show, and Bill/Star, Beth Joy/Bella Starlet, and Travis/Presley are singled out as the weakest. Beth Joy and Bella Starlet are eliminated, which is the right call, in my opinion. They do have a great bond, but Bella just isn't as well-trained as the other dogs. Also, Beth Joy is somewhat crazy. So, you know, there's that.

What do you think about JD's training methods? Are you, like the judges, disappointed in Bill for pushing Star?

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