The Latest: Conrad the Sheltie makes Westminster final ring

Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) — The Latest on the Westminster Kennel Club dog show (all times local):

10:58

Conrad the Shetland sheepdog is headed to the best-of-seven final ring at the Westminster dog show.

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The 6-year-old Sheltie won the herding group Monday nightfht.

He'll join Siba the standard black poodle, Bono the Havanese and Bourbon the whippet on Tuesday night with a chance to become best in show at Madison Square Garden.

9:55 p.m.

Siba the black standard poodle has pranced and advanced at the Westminster Kennel Club.

Siba topped a pair of top pooches to win the nonsporting group Monday night at Madison Square Garden. She also proved an ultimate truth at any dog show — no matter what, a fancy-cut poodle is always a contender.

Almost 4, Siba performed to perfection. She did a little bow to the crowd, stood absolutely still while in front of the judge and then glided around the ring.

Maybe she was boosted by her pregame meal. No, it wasn't some specialized food for show dogs. Instead, she devoured a grilled chicken from McDonald's.

Siba beat out popular bulldog Thor, who won the National Dog Show televised on Thanksgiving Day, and Colton the schipperke that won this group last year in New York.

Siba reached the best-of-seven final ring Tuesday night, when best in show will be chosen. Bono the Havanese and Bourbon the whippet won their groups earlier in the evening.

9:10 p.m.

Bono the Havanese will get another chance to become America's top dog.

Silky and flowing, the 3-year-old named for U2's frontman won the toy group Monday night at the Westminster Kennel Club.

Bono finished second overall at Westminster last February, then was the runner-up last November in the National Dog Show.

Bono was ranked as the country's top show dog last year. But the No. 1 dog coming into Madison Square Garden doesn't always leave on top.

Best in show will be chosen Tuesday night. Bourbon the whippet earlier won the hound group to reach the best-of-seven final ring.

As soon as the judge pointed to Bono, he jumped onto a podium in the middle of the ring, almost as if declaring he knew where his place should be.

“He has something that makes people look at him," handler Taffe McFadden said. “He just stares ‘em down."

8:20 p.m.

Bourbon the whippet has won the hound group at the Westminster dog show.

Her head perfectly still as she strode the green carpet at Madison Square Garden, the 4-year-old whippet was a quick choice Monday nightight.

She advanced to the best-of-seven final ring Tuesday night, when best in show will be chosen.

Bourbon won her breed last year, and now has a chance to become the first whippet since 1964 to become America's top dog.

The Garden was mostly full to see judging in the hound, toy, nonsporting and herding groups.

Among the hounds was Relic the Azawakh, a new breed to Westminster this year. A borzoi, beagle and Afghan hound also drew enthusiastic crowd support.

3:45 p.m.

A rock star as usual, Bono is heading back Madison Square Garden.

The Havanese named after U2's frontman won best in breed at the Westminster Kennel Club show Monday. Immediately after, he was swarmed by dog show judges-in-training eager to inspect the superb example of the national dog of Cuba.

“On top of his conformation being so on point with the breed specification, he has the joie de vivre attitude," handler Taffe McFadden said. "He loves it. He is in it.”

Bono was rated the No. 1 show dog in the country last year, but he's yet to fetch the top prize at the circuit's two most heralded shows. Bono was runner-up at Westminster last year to King, a wire fox terrier, and also finished second to Thor the bulldog at the National Dog Show on Thanksgiving Day. Thor is among the favorites this year at Westminster, and won his best in breed earlier in the day.

Bono's next step is the best-in-group competition Monday night at Madison Square Garden. If he wins the toy group, another showdown with Thor could be on deck.

“Step one,” McFadden said. “Let's get on that Garden stage again. Let's see.”

1:25 p.m.

Thor the star bulldog has taken his first winning steps at the Westminster Kennel Club show.

Thor has quite a following after more than 25 million viewers saw him win the National Dog Show televised on Thanksgiving Day.

With the crowd cheering him around the ring this time, the sturdy 2-year-old born in Peru earned a best of breed ribbon. He advanced to the nonsporting group judging Monday night at Madison Square Garden.

Handler Eduardo Paris appreciated the audience support.

“Many people came to see him," Paris said after the early victory.

12:55 p.m.

Tiny dogs are having their day at the Westminster Kennel Club show.

Pomeranians, papillons and other toy dogs are in the rings Monday, as are terriers and the diverse category of dogs known as “non-sporting” breeds.

They range from Dalmatians, bulldogs and poodles to less familiar breeds such as the löwchen, Norwegian lundehund and Xoloitzcuintli -- that’s "shoh-loh-eetz-KWEENT’-lee," a hairless breed from Mexico.

Backstretch the bulldog took in the scene as she waited to compete. Just 12 weeks after having a litter of puppies, she was back in competitive shape and ready to show off with owner and handler Valery Scrimo of Saratoga Springs, New York.

Backstretch did fine, too, winning a ribbon for excellence.

Daytime judging chooses the best dog in each breed. Those winners begin facing off Monday night at Madison Square Garden, where best in show will be named Tuesday night.

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12:25 p.m.

What makes a championship obedience dog? The Westminster Kennel Club knows it by Heart.

A Labrador retriever named Heart won Westminster’s obedience contest Sunday, extending her sweep of the five-year-old competition.

With that, handler Linda Brennan says they don’t plan to enter the contest next year.

“I think it’s only fair” to step aside, said Brennan, an obedience trainer from Columbia, New Jersey.

The competition requires dogs to sit, stay, retrieve a toy on command and stick by their handlers’ sides while walking around other people, among other skills. Finalists used to do complex six-minute routines of their own devising, but Westminster changed things up this year to align more closely with other obedience trials.

Heart, age 7, executed the maneuvers with her tail wagging.

“She loves this environment — she really does. She finds it very exciting and very stimulating,” Brennan said.

Don’t lose heart, owners of everyday dogs: Even Heart misbehaves from time to time outside the ring.

“She has her little naughty habits,” Brennan said with a smile.

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