The President of Turkmenistan has declared a public holiday in honour of the country’s national dog breed – a huge step up from the gilded golden statue he commissioned of the canine last year.
The Alabai dog breed is considered part of the country’s identity, and is revered by long-time leader Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov.
The breed is also known as the Turkmen shepherd dog, a sizeable canine that was used to guard herds of sheep and goat.
The public holiday was declared on Sunday, and even included a special competition for the top dog of all the Alabais in the land.
A border guard service dog was crowned the winner, receiving a medal and his owner a car, for his contribution to the country.
The new day off coincided with a pre-exisiting national recognition for the country’s Akhal-Teke horse breeds, also held in high esteem by Turkmenistan.
Turkmenistan has a population of about six million, and sits in South-East Asia, sharing borders with Afghanistan and Iran to the south, and northern borders with Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan.