I’d be lying if I said I didn’t enjoy this week’s episode. There. You, happy? Here are the highlights:

Most pleasantly uncomfortable moment: Beth Joy got verbally bitch-slapped for dressing up her mutt, Bella Starlet (pictured). This week’s theme was obedience, so in the Best in Show elimination challenge, the owners were judged on grooming of their dogs, as well as their dogs’ responses to the commands “Sit. Stay,” “Leave it,” and “Heel.” I didn’t think anything would top Tillman, the skateboarding English Bull Dog, fighting his desire to eat the steak that was placed before him. (Amazingly, all the dogs left their favorite foods untouched.) But then, when Beth Joy and Bella Starlet were placed again in the bottom three, all bets were off. The judges explained to Beth Joy that by putting Bella in clothing (a dress that wasn’t as cute as Beth Joy thought it was), she was actually masking the body language that Bella uses to communicate with other dogs. After being told that clothing was “completely inappropriate,” Beth Joy spoke: “This is a fancy dinner party. Yeah, I’m gonna dress her up because when she walks a red carpet, she dresses up.” After judge Wendy Diamond said, “A dog is not a Barbie Doll,” Elan got a smug look on her face, thinking that she and her Giant Schnauzer, Kenji, had just been saved. But no, they were sent home…

• Most delusional moment: Elan thought that she and Kenji actually had a chance at scoring the luxury suite by winning this week’s obedience-themed Dog Bone Challenge. Ha! They went out in the third round when Elan couldn’t get Kenji to give her a shake with her right paw. Eventually, it came down to two of my favorites, Laura and her Pomeranian (Preston) and Travis and his boxer (Presley).
Travis got Presley to circle left, then circle right, first. Everyone was happy for him because he’s caused no drama in the house. I was happy for him because he is absolutely adorable. He was so sweet with Presley, petting him between rounds and giving him plenty of “Good boy” kudos. Like judge Victoria Stilwell said after Travis’ performance in the Best in Show challenge, it takes a big man to use baby talk with his dog. (“That’s my good boy. That’s my good boopers.”) And it’s a good owner who can use baby talk and still be an authority figure. But back to Elan and Kenji. Elan’s constant “Eh-ehs” to rambunctious Kenji irritated her fellow competitors, the judges, and, I think it’s fair to say, the viewers. That duo got eliminated.

After the jump, an emergency trip to the vet.

addCredit(“Greatest American Dog: Cliff Lipson”)

Best quote: At the start of the episode, as David and hisParson Russell Terrier, Elvis, prepared to move inside from the doghouse, Elvisgot into a tiny physical altercation with Tillman and drew a littleblood.”Tillman’s a farter, not a fighter,” owner Ron said. (Tillman wasfine.)

Worst sound: That would be Brittany Star’s little yelp and whimpering after she tangled with a cat or a wire off-camera and needed to be rushed to the animal clinic for stitches on her left ear. The blood on owner Bill’s sweatshirt was scary, but Star, too, was fine. “She’s not a pet, she’s not a dog. She’s a companion,” Bill said, explaining the tears that flowed in the waiting room. He brought her home and laid her down on the bed to rest. He sat on the floor beside her with his hand on the bed, and she put her head on it. Ahhh. Who besides me (and Travis in his confessional, when he imagined something happening to Presley) got misty? Chances are, if you have a dog, you know that feeling of helplessness, of seeing pain in the eyes of a creature that has brought you nothing but joy. I’m welling up just thinking about how I held my parents’ Dachshund Dakota on my lap when we drove her four hours to a canine cardiologist. And how I sobbed next to the recovery-room table as I said goodbye to their Dachshund Frasier before he went to sleep. And how I made a special trip to their home a few months ago because their 14-year-old Dachshund, Madison, was having surgery and I needed to see her before it. (Maddy’s fine.)

Okay, so back to the show: Who’s your pick to win the $250,000 prize? Who hopes that Brandy and her Miniature Schnauzer, Beacon, are the next to go? And who (like me) is in full support of Laura getting closer to Presley (and Travis)?

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