'Greatest American Dog' recap: Swingtown

Jdgalaxy_lThis week’s theme was loyalty. And with that in mind, we’ve chosen to picture JD and Galaxy. You’ll recall that the English Border Collie strained her right front shoulder muscle last episode, presumably from the 32-FT. DROP, 50-FT. LONG ZIPLINE she completed in the "Stunt Dog" competition. How sweet was JD when he carried Galaxy to her doggy bed? How sweet was Galaxy when she gave JD kisses as he tried to make her more comfortable? If the judges had seen that, they wouldn’t call Galaxy robotic.

Luckily, Galaxy recovered overnight, and the final four resumed competition with a Survivor-esque Dog Bone Challenge. The owner who could keep his or her dog sitting or standing on a stump the longest won. Maltese Andrew was disqualified first for lying down. Next, Galaxy pooped out. Travis, seeing that his Boxer, Presley, was looking miserable, tried to negotiate a treaty with Teresa that said he would let her win if they could share the leg-up. Very Survivor-esque! But Travis showed too much weakness, and Teresa resisted. Just under 18 minutes in, Travis called Presley off, and Teresa and her Border Collie Leroy retired to the Dog Bone Suite, where they also got to make a video call to her boyfriend.

The Best in Show Challenge was another simple but suspense-filled task: Each owner spent an hour with each of the other owner’s dogs. The goal was to bond, so that they could get that other owner’s dog to come to them instead of obeying his or her owner’s orders to stay. We all knew Andrew was going to win this, and he did. Even better then watching the other owners try to tempt him with toys and treats during the actual competition — as he yawned — was watching his "bonding" time with Travis and JD. He could not have cared less about them, which he proved to JD when he escaped from the house and ran off to find Laurie who was working outside.

After the jump, this week’s training controversy.

Though Presley was the only dog tempted to leave his owner during the "Me or Them" challenge, the only pair that was safe from elimination was Laurie and Andrew. The judges felt that Teresa and JD used aggressive stances and vocal commands to get their dogs to stay out of fear. That’s obedience not loyalty, and the bullying angered Victoria Stilwell. Wendy Diamond, meanwhile, thought Travis and Presley should go home because his puppy lacked focus — though she acknowledged that Travis always earned it back through love and respect. In the end, the judges sent Teresa and Leroy packing, probably because she still hadn’t gotten him to stop barking. Let’s be honest.

Who do you think should — and/or will — take home the $250,000 prize in next week’s season’s finale? Where do you fall on the Galaxy debate: well-trained or over-trained to the point that she lacks any spontaneity?

This blog post is dedicated to Nittany Bierly, my parents’ Chow/Border Collie mix, who passed away yesterday at the age of 15. You will be missed, Nitters. Say hi to Pappy Groninger for us when he picks you up in the Four Wheeler, okay? He’ll be there.

Comments (36 total) Add your comment
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  • Matt

    I think JD and Galaxy will win it all. Galaxy is the most talented dog on the show. Presly is too young and does lack focus, and Andrew has no personality at all.

  • TsuKata

    I hope JD and Galaxy win it. Galaxy seems like a great American dog. If any dog is robotic, it’s Andrew. That was almost freakish with the separation anxiety he had without Laurie.

  • Patty

    I thought my husband’s head was going to explode over the parsing of loyalty vs. obedience. Obviously Andrew was the most loyal – the freaking dog escaped the house to find his owner – they deserved to win. I think the challenge could have been set up better if they really wanted to prove loyalty without any commands (which makes it obedience training). I pray that this show does not come back next summer. They couldn’t come up with good challenges this year, what the heck would the do next year: Which dog will walk on water, through a fire, while drawing a picture of their favority toy, while blindfolded?

  • Tillman’s #1 Fan

    I was disappointed to see Leroy and Teresa go home. He completed his task and I didn’t think Teresa was being intimidating. Judges are just stupid and inconsistent. Last week they sent Bill & Star home because Star wouldn’t jump off the friggin’ platform? Presley got off the circle and he was safe? HUH??? I agree w/one blogger – Andrew lacks personality. I hope he doesn’t win. I don’t like JD because he’s arrogant – but I so adore Galaxy. She is SWEET!! Can’t wait for the reunion next week so I can see Tillman again!!

  • Butterscotch

    I respected Travis for pulling Presley out of the dog bone challenge. When I heard the loyalty theme, I knew Andrew would probably win and I find it odd they saved this Best in Show challenge to the final 4. Surely the producers have been editing past footage and knew Andrew would have the “leg up”. Now, I do like Laurie and Andrew and I do think he has a personality, albeit lowkey. Of all the dogs left, Presley shows the most personality. It amazes me when the camera pans to him how his expressions are so consistent with the situation. I really don’t care who wins…I just enjoyed the dogs and didn’t take it seriously.

  • Bubba

    Galaxy is far and away the most well-trained dog on the show, so if that makes for a “great American dog,” Galaxy/JD are hands-down winners. Andrew is tuned into his owner to the exclusion of everyone else, not necessarily a good trait.
    Victoria is a moron, most likely an Obama supporter (though thankfully, she can’t vote). JD clearly loves that dog and would never harm her. I suppose Victoria thinks the government should get involved to offer Galaxy therapy and make sure her rights are protected. Perhaps some kind of grant would be in order. Just because his training methods differ from her so-called expertise doesn’t mean he shouldn’t win.

  • Kate

    Bubba, don’t turn this into a political discussion. That Obama comment was uncalled for and has nothing to do with anything on this blog.

  • Randi

    The general public is clueless about what a well trained dog is. No wonder thousands of dogs end up euthanized every year. Dogs need strong, benevolent leaders. Andrew has that in Laurie. To describe His devotion as “separation anxiety” is one of the most ignorant statements I’ve ever read. To the person who wrote that, where did you get your degree in animal behavior? Oh, you don’t have one? Imagine that. Separation anxiety is a serious behavior problem in dogs which usually manifests in self mutilation, stress and destructive behavior. Andrew was looking for Laurie but like she said, he wasn’t stressing about it. He wasn’t barking frantically or scratching and clawing at the door. He wasn’t pacing back and forth and freaking out. He was merely looking for and waiting for her. This is what your dog SHOULD do. I was surprised of JD’s limitations as a trainer. His inability to get Andrew’s interest showed he can only train dogs that want to chase balls and catch frisbees.

  • Katya

    Lacks personality? Since when is bad behavior and personality the same thing? Andrew has a great personality. He is very chipper and animated and always looks like he has a smile on his face. He is a therapy dog and is very social. He participates in a reading program at our local library. My kids have read books to Andrew on many occasions. He is so good at sitting quietly when they read to and pet him. I couldn’t see any of the other dogs left doing that, especially Presley. Dogs have different strengths. What Andrew brings to the table is very special in its own right. Not all dogs were meant to jump around like crazy dogs!

  • Sylvia

    Since when did this become a personality contest? I thought it was looking for the strongest bond between owner and dog. Um, Laurie and Andrew, without question.

  • Bubba

    Please, one doesn’t need a degree in animal behavior to understand dogs. In my view, a degree in animal behavior would be a prime example of one who talks a good game but is ineffective in practice. Remind you of anyone?

  • Butterscotch

    To Katya – thanks for Andrew’s back story. Andrew does community volunteer work!

  • janetms

    I love Andrew’s personality. And, he is definitely devoted to Laurie. It was annoying to hear the other owners complaining that he was neurotic. I have a small dog that is very social but if she can see me or hear my voice, it’s all about me!

  • Jean

    I did not agree with the obstacle course challenge last week. Honestly who would rig their dog into a harness and then ask the poor dog to jump?!?! I can’t believe the judges approved of such a thing.

  • CarrieMae

    I think all the dogs on this show were great. Too bad the show itself stinks. The judges are inconsistent and the challenges make no sense. Flying Dogs? Painting with your dog? But don’t put clothing on your dog! Total nonsense.

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