This 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.

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