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Tuesday
Feb122013

Westminster Dog Show: Affenpinscher Wins Best in Show

STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- The winner of the 137th annual Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show got one howling retirement gift.

Banana Joe, a 4-year-old grand champion Affenpinscher and a crowd favorite, was crowned Best in Show at the annual dog show in New York City. It was the toy dog's last show, and the first ever Westminster Best in Show win for the breed.

Affenpinschers are notable for their monkey-like faces -- "Affe" means monkey or ape in German, where the breed originated. After beating out nearly 3,000 dogs Tuesday night, Joe will fly back to his home in the Netherlands.

Judge Michael Dougherty awarded both the Best in Show crown and the Reserve Best in Show, the second place title, to another major underdog and crowd favorite -- Swagger, a 20-month-old Old English Sheepdog.

Swagger, who was a "class" dog, meaning he did not have enough points to qualify for champion, pulled an upset when he was chosen best of the herding group on Monday, earning him a spot on the Best in Show ring. While almost every other contender in the herding group was a nationally-ranked show champion, this was only Swagger's fourth show.

The crowds went wild when Swagger pranced gracefully around the Best in Show ring. Westminster president Sean McCarthy had nicknamed the dog Rocky, a reference to the famous underdog boxer played by Sylvester Stallone.

His handler and owner, Colton Johnson of Colorado Springs, Colo., described Swagger as a "cool dog" and said the group win came as a "total shock."

"He's not even a champion yet, so he came out of the classes to win the breed, which is a huge deal, but then to go and win the group is unbelievable, just mind-blowing," Johnson said.

This was a year of firsts for Westminster. Usually staunch in tradition, this is the first year the dog show awarded a second place winner and the first time it allowed an "open competition," meaning it allowed dogs that were not of "champion" status to compete.

The event went seemingly smoothly, except during the Best in Show finals, when a PETA protestor with a sign was removed from the stands and escorted out of the arena. The incident did not seem to disrupt the show.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio