I know I’m late filing my Greatest American Dog recap, and that the 15 20 of you who still read it could be angry. But I have the best excuse ever: Mark-Paul Gosselaar just stopped by our office. (See him meet Annie here.) On to the show…

So last night’s theme was courage. Or, how to scare your dog s—less.

The Dog Bone Challenge involved an elephant. AN ELEPHANT. One-by-one, the dogs were seated in a circle and asked to stay put while a 9,000-lb. elephant walked toward them. The one who stayed in the circle the longest, while his or her owner yelled, ” Stay! Stay! Focus!”, won. Only Maltese Andrew (pictured) and Boxer Presley (a.k.a. Poopers) had enough courage to let the elephant get close enough to grab a banana that also sat inside the circle. For the tie-breaker, Andrew and Presley both sat in the circle, while their owners, Laurie and Travis, stood in between the charging trotting elephant and them — with their backs turned to the elephant. Now frankly, I think the Dog Bone Suite should have gone to the dog that was the first to tell their owner to get the h— out of the way. (D—, this show is making me swear a lot this week.) But it went to Andrew, who stayed in the circle the longest. That Maltese has nerves of steel. Or does he?…

addCredit(“Greatest American Dog: Eric McCandless”)

The Best in Show Challenge, “Stunt Dog,” was the most difficult andinsane task to date. (Remember when we started this series with musicaldoggy chairs? Those were not good, but at least safe, times.) The dogshad to complete a three-part stunt course, while wearing a safetyharness: An incline ramp, a balance beam, and a 32-FT. DROP, 50-FT. LONG ZIPLINE.Bill was surprisingly psyched to see his orange dog, Star, fly. But theol’ Brittany wouldn’t do it. (They’d eventually get the boot.) Andrew also didn’t have the cojones to make the leap, which actually made me happy: That dog seems too devoted to Laurie — I want to know that he can think for himself. Border Collie Leroy took the plunge after much begging from owner Teresa — and barking. Presley also went airborne, as did English Border Collie Galaxy. Galaxy appeared fine after the jump, but later, started limping. At the judges’ panel, Victoria Stilwell asked how Galaxy strained the muscle in her front right shoulder. I’m only guessing here, but I’m gonna blame the harness and the 32-FT. DROP, 50-FT. LONG ZIPLINE.

And P.S. I trust that the show’s animal experts wouldn’t do something that they thought could harm the dogs, but is it smart to teach them to jump off a 32-ft. high platform? My parents yell at their younger Dachshunds, Sophie (a.k.a. La Luche) and Charles (a.k.a. Chuck E. Cheese’s) for jumping off the bed. (Their older Dachshund, Madison, a.k.a. Sony Baiul, knows better.) What if a dog doesn’t realize it didn’t die only because it was wearing wires and tries it again?

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