From the next US leader’s dog to the current leader’s dog in Turkmenistan. Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov unveiled a 19ft statue of a Central Asia Shepherd dog (Среднеазиатская овчарка; Алабай) the Alabai in the capital Ashgabat this week.
Much-derided for being kitsch and for the cost when much of the country lives in poverty, it nevertheless celebrates a national treasure, the base of the statue including an LED display recounting the history of the breed.
The Alabai is a local variant of similar livestock-guarding dogs of the central Asian steppes and is characterised by extremely flexible joints, false ribs and a powerful neck, the head set at a noticeable angle and possessing large flews. Turkmenistan is also home of the glorious Akhal-Teke horse – a lily that is already gilded. The horse’s coat has a golden, metallic sheen to which no statue could do justice.