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Greatest American Dog Week 7 Recap

The anticipation for this week's Greatest American Dog ran high amongst the Hoefinger clan. I don't know if our dogs were more excited or Lisa...

Horst Hoefinger  |  Aug 21st 2008


The anticipation for this week’s Greatest American Dog ran high amongst the Hoefinger clan. I don’t know if our dogs were more excited or Lisa and I.

Why the anticipation? It was puppy week! Let me just say, if you like to see puppies frolicking about, this week did not disappoint. If you like to see two judges go at it, then you were in luck there too.

But first, to the dog bone challenge. Two teams, randomly selected, worked together to free one of the owners in a box. Basically one dog needed to ring a bell and the other dog had to climb into a pit and dig for a release lever.

Star (and Bill) and Presley (and Travis) managed to beat Andrew (and Lori) and Galaxy (and JD) by 12 seconds, doing it in a minute and a half. The last team Leroy (and Teresa) and Bella Starlet (and Beth Joy) failed to complete the competition. Unfortunately, they still released Beth Joy from the box to continue on to the next event. Hold the mail, I’m just kidding!

One of the perks this week for winning the dog bone challenge was a phone call home. This resulted in two, yes two, teary eyed calls home. Very touching. In addition, the leg up this week allowed the winners to get an advance look at the following day’s challenge. The challenge? Herding a group of three puppies through a maze in the fastest time.

Acclimating Presley and Star to the golden retriever puppies was a lot of fun to watch. I could have watched Presley playing with the pups all night long. Star? She really wanted no part of the action. I will say, seeing those pups so full of life and joy really put a big smile on my face. I think I’ll have to re-watch that segment tomorrow morning before going to work. People will wonder why I’m so happy.

On to the challenge. JD and Galaxy were up first. I thought they did an incredible job. JD had 5 minutes to acclimate Galaxy with the puppies. At the end of the five minutes, JD went to other side of the maze and the game began. JD called Galaxy and every 10 seconds or so had her sit to let the puppies catch up. It took two trips through to get all the puppies, but in the end they were all corralled.

The second amazing performance was by Teresa and Leroy. Teresa decided on a low key approach and coaxed Leroy through the maze with her voice. All three puppies followed him like he was the pied piper. The sight of those three retrievers just bouncing along behind Leroy was fabulous.

Lori and Andrew got one puppy and Bill and Star got one (it may have been two). The other two failed to guide any puppies through the maze.

So the bottom three for the week were Travis and Presley (0 pups), Beth Joy and Bella Starlet (0 pups) and Bill and Star (becasue he pushed Star a little further than she really wanted to go). The decision was pretty easy, after a teary eyed farewell Beth Joy and Bella Starlet were on their way home.

On to the controversy of the week. During some down time, we were given a peek at a discussion between Lori and JD about the methods used to train dogs. Lori thought JD’s methods were fear based. JD indicated the methods he uses work, and it’s not like he hurts the dogs he trains. Lori likes to use positive reinforcement when she’s training Andrew. It’s a hot topic in the dog training world and opinions from experts vary.

But that wasn’t the controversy. It happened during the judging. Wendy praised JD and his work with Galaxy. Victoria jumped in and said she had issues with his training methods. She’s clearly in the positive reinforcement camp. A few exchanges back and forth, some uncomfortable silence and we went to commercial! Upon coming back, Wendy stroked Victoria’s ego saying she’s the best trainer out there. End of conflict, at least in front of the cameras.

I don’t know which method is better, but I do know that I prefer the positive reinforcement method that Bo uses when he trains me.

I’m sure there will be a few comments here about this week’s episode, as well as the best way to train a dog. Be kind, be civil, be happy. Beth Joy is gone.