For the Love of a Dog

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Turkmenistan passed a new law this week that would restrict the export of its prized native dog breed, an animal highly venerated by the leadership of the Central Asian nation, the Associated Press reported.

The new regulations will require all puppies of the Alabay breed to be marked in the government’s pedigree book and register of pedigreed dogs. Owners will also need special dog passports and government export permissions to allow their canines to leave the country.

The Alabay – known as the Central Asian shepherd dog – is celebrated in Turkmenistan, which prides itself on its horses and dogs, honoring centuries-old herding traditions.

The breed has traditionally been used for guarding livestock and is one of the largest dogs in the world – weighing as much as 175 pounds.

Former President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov is particularly fond of the animal, publishing a book and writing a song about the breed. In recent years, he established a holiday in honor of the Alabay and unveiled a 50-foot-tall golden statue of the dog in the nation’s capital.

His son and successor, Serdar – who was elected president this year – heads the international association of Alabays.

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