is, without a doubt, the greatest reality show of all time. Last summer I thought that honor went to Age of Love, but this show has everything! Crazy premise? Check. Equally crazy contestants? Check. Ridiculous challenges? Check. Absurdly extravagant living quarters? Check. ADORABLE DOGS? Check! And as an added bonus, Greatest American Dog played "Atomic Dog" by George Clinton at least forty seven times in the space of an hour. Who wouldn’t love that??!!!1!11!!

Am I joking? Perhaps, perhaps not. I do love me some adorable dogs, after all. And let’s face it: Greatest American Dog is most definitely the best title ever. It’s flying away on a wing and a prayer, people. Believe it or not, it’s just meee awesome. And now, time to meet our contestants:

Ron and his skateboarding bulldog Tillman. I don’t know what it is about watching a bulldog skateboard, but it warms my icy heart. J.D. and his frisbee-catching English Pointer/Border Collie Galaxy. Brandy and her outfit-wearing Miniature Schnauzer Beacon. Let me state for the record that I am not only against stupid outfits on dogs, but that it makes me an uncomfortable combination of angry and nauseous just to look at them. And Brandy is a major, major offender. Also, she seems kind of crazy.

Michael and his ADORABLE Boston Terrier Ezzie. Laura and her hot pink mohawk-wearing Pomeranian Preston. Okay, I know that sounds awful, but it’s seriously incredible cute and awesome. Trust me. Oh, and incidentally, Laura is totally my favorite so far. Travis and his Boxer puppy Presley. Bill and Greatest American Hero Star, a Brittany who saved his diabetic wife’s life.

Laurie and her Maltese Andrew, who does NOT look good wet. Oof. Teresa and her Border Collie Leroy. You know, Border Collies are so smart that it almost seems unfair to have him competing against some of these other guys. No offense, Miniature Schnauzer owners. Elan and the biggest effing (Giant) Schnauzer I’ve ever seen, Kenji. She’s terrifying.

Beth Joy and actress Bella Star, a cute little mixed-breed who also wears outfits (ugh) and is the "Pamela Anderson of dogs," according to Beth Joy. Way to aim for the stars, Beth Joy. Way to aim for the stars. Oh, and according to the website, Beth Joy is a former Elaine (from Seinfeld) impersonator. And has a tattoo of her dog. So…yeah. That’s actually too much for me to even make a cohesive joke. And finally, David and his Parson Russell Terrier Elvis, whose "Bark Mitzvah" cost about the same as my full year’s rent.

The dogs will all live together in Canine Academy with their owners, where they will train to perform unique tasks which will illustrate qualities like intelligence, obedience, teamwork, and courage. Because, it seems, these qualities determine who is the Greatest American Dog. And thus, who walks away with $250,000.

Okay, you guys? Canine Academy is INSANE. There are topiaries shaped like dogs and fire hydrants, an ice sculpture/fountain shaped like another hydrant, and approximately 8,000,000 bone-shaped items. It’s like a doggie version of M.C. Hammer’s house.  After some awkward mingling, host Jarod Miller informs us that there will be two challenges each week, the first of which (the Dog Bone Challenge) will determine sleeping arrangements for the week. The winner gets a giant golden dog bone, which is the key to an insanely luxurious suite for the contestant and his or her dog. The winner then picks someone who has to sleep in the Dog House, which is…a dog house. Still better than sharing a room with another contestant and their dog, though, if you ask me.

First Dog Bone Challenge: Doggie musical chairs. Or rather, platforms. Ugh, I always hated this game as a kid. So much pressure! There’s lots of high-pitched encouragement, though Teresa makes me violent when she starts yelling at Leroy to shut up as he barks his head off. Not Cool, yo. J.D. and Galaxy win, and J.D. chooses David and Elvis to live in the Dog House. Laura, continuing her streak of not sucking, organizes extra food and blankets for him, plus his luggage.  Brandy, continuing her streak of crazy, invites everyone and their dogs to her wedding, and goes on and on to Ron about all the guns her dad has for people to shoot. Um, fun!

The big challenge this week is a group talent show in front of the judges, where the dogs will get to demonstrate their basic skills. The judges, by the way, are Victoria Stilwell, dog trainer extraordinaire and host of "It’s Me or the Dog"; Allan Reznik, editor of "Dog World" and "Dog Fancy"; and Wendy Diamond, author and founder of Animal Fair.

Team Aloha is J.D.’s dream team of smart dogs. In ridiculously elaborate costumes with an equally elaborate set, the team does a series of beach-themed routines. Teresa and Leroy do a cute job "cleaning up the beach," though the judges don’t love Leroy’s barking. Bill has Star sort of turn and jump around, and then sit, and the judges think he seems nervous. J.D. and Galaxy do an awesome bit where Galaxy flips and jumps around, and then balances on his back, which the judges love. Finally, Laura has Preston play around with a beach ball and give her a high five. It’s super cute, and the judges like how she interacts with Preston. Yay, Laura!

Team Bark Wag High, consisting of the leftover misfits from the other two teams, has a high school-themed routine. Brandy pretty much fails at everything with Beacon, and the judges especially hate how she pushes Beacon down when she wouldn’t sit on her own. Beth Joy has Bella Starlet dance, which is kind of cute, though Beth Joy is really the star of the routine. The judges wanted a more varied performance. David has Elvis kind of roll over and sit, which seemed dull to me, but the judges like how Elvis responded to David. Finally, Travis has a funny routine with Presley where he frisks him and has him play dead, and the judges like their performance.

Team Disco Dogs is anchored by Michael, who tried to surround himself with a high-energy, entertaining bunch. Unfortunately, Michael is too bogged down with being a painful, cruise ship caliber MC to really work with Ezzie, who doesn’t listen to him at all. The judges think he overwhelmed and stressed out his dog. Elan and Kenji do a cute routine with high-fives and dancing, and the judges love it. That dog freaks me out, though. She’s so…Honey, I Blew Up the Schnauzer!, you know? Ron and Tillman do their skateboarding trick, and I grin stupidly along with the judges. Laurie and Andrew navigate the world’s tiniest hurdles, and it’s too adorable for words. Even more adorable is when the judges praise her work with Andrew, and she tears up. Love her!   

The judges name Brandy/Beacon, Beth Joy/Bella Starlet, and Michael/Ezzie as the weakest, and I pray to god that one of the outfit-wearing dogs will be eliminated. Sadly, god apparently digs dogs in tutus, and my prayers go unanswered. Michael and Ezzie are out, cutting the adorableness factor of this show by a solid 20 percent. Sigh. They take a farewell lap, and I ponder the cruelty of this painful world of ours. Farewell, Ezzie. Farewell. You’ll always be Cutest American Dog in my heart.

Where do you stand on doggie outfits? Any early favorite dogs or contestants? Can you stand how great this show is?

Posted by:Liz Pardue