The practice of keeping pets moved up in the prestige stakes last weekend with the nation's first ever dog show, replete with international judges.
Thousands of dogs of many different breeds hobnobbed at the Nguyen Du Sports Center in HCMC's District 1. The canine numbers were higher than expected because people who had registered one of their pets for the competition brought four of five. Others were not participating in the event, but still brought several pets to give the latter a feel for the competition.
"My two Chihuahuas are too young, but I brought them here so they can get used to the excitement. Maybe next year, I will have them compete if a similar event is organized," said a spectator.
The main judge of the contest was Monnique Van Brempt, a referee with the World Canine Organization called the FÃƒ©dÃƒ©ration Cynologique Internationale (FCI). Then there was Takemi Nagamura, FCI's Asia Pacific president, supervising proceedings.
Like their human counterparts, the dogs not only had to be good looking and well groomed, but also display gentlemanly or ladylike behavior.
The overall winner of the contest was a berger named Haweto Alina
Kim Qui, deputy manager of the contest's organizing board, said, "a dog will get extra points if it is confident in its performance and friendly to strangers and other contestants."
Vietnam's own Phu Quoc ridgeback drew a lot of attention at the contest. Qui said the contest was "an opportunity for international judges and FCI in the Asia Pacific region to have a closer look at the Phu Quoc ridgeback, a purebred breed."
Thanh Khoa, trainer of a Phu Quoc ridgeback called Dom (spotted), said, "My Dom won the best prize for the Phu Quoc breed and won the overall second prize. I am very happy because it means the Phu Quoc ridgeback breed has been internationally recognized. It is good news for those who raise the Vietnamese breed."
Khoa's Dom came just second behind a German berger named Haweto Alina, a 3-year-old dog who was crowned winner of the 2009 national competition.
A bulldog belonging to Ta Ngoc Son won eight prizes at the contest.