The Turkmen ruler sets up a holiday in honor of the local breed of dog a lifestyle

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ASHGABAT, Turkmenistan (AP) – Turkmenistan’s autocratic leader has set up a national holiday to honor the local breed of dogs, media reports said Tuesday.

President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov ordered that the holiday of praising the Central Asian Shepherd Dog Alabai be celebrated on the last Sunday in April, when the ex-Soviet nation also marks the day of the local horse breed, according to the daily Neutral Turkmenistan.

The Central Asian nation of 6 million people prides itself on horses and dogs and honors its centuries-old herding traditions.

Berdymukhamedov has ruled the gas-rich desert country since 2006 through a comprehensive personality cult that calls him Turkmenistan’s “Arkadaq” or protector.

The Turkmen leader has extolled the Alabai for years. He published a book about the breed and presented a puppy to Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2017. Last year he inaugurated a massive gilded statue honoring the dog in the Turkmen capital. In 2019, then Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev also received an Alabai puppy.

Berdymukhamedov’s son Serdar, who heads the international Alabai federation, told the president that there will be a beauty contest and agility contests over the holidays.

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