A lot of hope and preparation had been put into the participation of two Phu Quoc ridgebacks at the recent Paris world dog show, but these have failed to get the breed officially listed by the Fédération Cynologique Internationale (FCI) or World Canine Organization.
This is a disappointment after the FCI had given the two Phu Quoc ridgebacks, indigenous to the island the breed is named after, special entry to the July 7-10 show.
In 1894, a pair of two-year-old Phu Quoc dogs named Xoai (Mango) and Chuoi (Banana), owned by Gaston Helouin of the Pas de Calais in France had won the first and second prizes respectively at the Anvers International Canine Exhibition in Belgium.
Since then, the dog has not been listed by FCI as an official breed for world shows, according to the Vietnam Kennel Association.
For the recent event in Paris, the association had sent Dom and Ven, the former a 5-year-old national champion.
At the French national round on July 8, Dom won the title "Best of Breeds" (BOB) title and Ven was received an "excellent" grade.
But Dom was almost not considered for the Best of Group (BOG) title later as the judge of its group claimed that FCI has not recognized the ridgeback and he know little about the breed, a Tuoi Tre report said Monday.
The judge only agreed to take a look at Dom after his handler Le Tuan complained to the organizers.
Finally, neither Dom nor a Thai ridgeback in the group got the title.
Dom and Ven were the only candidates in the Phu Quoc ridgeback category at the international BOB round on July 9, presenting an opportunity for the breed to be put on the FCI list after 117 years.
Dom walked tiredly during his performance while Ven put on a good show.
Espen Engh, a judge from Norway, gave Ven CACS, a French certificate for beautiful dog at world level, yet he refused to give the dog any award or cup for the world's Best of Breed.
Officials from the Vietnam delegation said that Vietnam needs to do a lot in the years to come so that efforts to bring Phu Quoc dogs back to world recognition do not go in vain again.
More than 38,000 dongs from more than 130 countries and territories participated in the World Dog Show 2011, which marked 100th anniversary of FCI.
Vietnam Kennel Association and the owners of Dom and Ven have spent four years and a lot of their own money to get the dogs into the competition.
Dom had won the first prize at the association's dog show in 2009 for his look and horse-paced run. He also won first prize at a national Phu Quoc ridgeback competition in 2009.
Vo Hong Hai, Dom's owner from Ho Chi Minh City, paid nearly VND30 million (US$1,458) to get medical checks, flight tickets and two guards for Dom.
Hai also asked Le Tuan, the owner of the TrangLe Neapolitan Mastif dog farm in Canada, to go to Paris to be Dom's handler.
Tuan said, "I was very happy when many people stopped and asked what dog he was that he was so beautiful.
"And I was also surprised that many people knew that he was a Phu Quoc dog."
Ven's journey was not as well-prepared.
He was sent to Paris later on cargo as there was no one accompanying him. His handler Pham Thanh Buoi waited for him at Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris.
Buoi has more than ten years of experience managing dozens of dog-armed security guards.
He said Ven's legs had almost gone numb at arrival as he had tried to hold his bladder and not defecate during the flight from HCMC.
"That is one of the precious characteristics of Phu Quoc dogs," Buoi said.
Ven's owner Ly Nguyen Khon had sent him urgently to Paris as the delegation wanted Dom to have a companion, and to promote Phu Quoc ridgeback.
"Khon knows that Ven cannot beat Dom for many reasons and yet he still sent the dog over," Buoi said. "Sending a dog on such short notice costs a lot, I would like to acknowledge Khon for his gesture."
Ven arrived just in time for him and his handler to get familiar with each other and practice for the show right at the airport.
Huynh Thi Thanh Thoc, a vet and vice chairwoman of VKA who was also in Paris for the show, said that she found Ven had some fever but had to let him into the show as "it would look odd, letting Dom stand there alone."
She said both dogs deserve praise for putting on a god show.