Colorado Springs family wins Westminster Dog Show honors again

Connor, the Old English Sheepdog from Colorado Springs, won the Westminster Dog Show competition for herding breeds on Sunday. The second-longest continuously held sporting event in the United States has had a lot of ties to Connor’s family in recent years.

The sheepdog’s father, Swagger, also trained by Colton Johnson, was a winner. Connor’s sister, who is owned and trained by Colton’s wife, has also been a winner.

“I was born in this; my family has been doing this for 46 years,” Johnson, the owner of a multi-service kennel, said. “It’s the only job I’ve ever had, and I’m proud of it. I’ve been showing the dogs for our family for the last 24 years.”

Swagger won reserve best in show in 2013.

“It’s definitely labor intensive,” Johnson said. “It’s not like, you know, the dog just lays around on the couch, goes out in the backyard and goes to the bathroom, and then we just say okay, we’re going to a dog show. Let’s go and pack them up.”

Johnson and several family members are packed up and driving home to Colorado from New York after their win.

The Westminster Dog Show was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, moving the venue from Madison Square Garden to outdoors. The usual dry conditions of Colorado compared to New York outside in the spring only helped fluff up Connor’s coat.

“If you win the breed in that dog show, it’s an honor, let alone placed in the group, let alone win the group,” Johnson said. “So you know anytime through something like that, there’s obviously a high level of excitement.”

The dog show wrapped up late Sunday night, and Connor — whose real name for the dog show is Bugaboo Courage of Conviction — lost out to Wasabi the Pekingese for best in show. But Connor, still a good boy, spent the evening in bed with his family in the hotel room.