Introducing Rakewell, Apollo’s wandering eye on the art world. Look out for regular posts taking a rakish perspective on art and museum stories.
‘Independent, courageous, self-confident’ – and that’s just what the American Kennel Club has to say about the character of the Central Asian Shepherd. The state news agency of Turkmenistan, which has recently praised the dog’s ‘pride and self-confidence’, couldn’t agree more – although dissent might not be an option given that the president of Turkmenistan has just erected a monument to his favourite breed.
President Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov has made no secret of his fondness for the Central Asian Shepherd, or alabai. The autocratic leader has written a book about the ancient livestock breed and in 2017 presented Vladimir Putin with a puppy. Turkmenistan may be experiencing hyperinflation and food shortages, but Berdymukhamedov has found time to commission a statue of an alabai for a roundabout in the capital Ashgabat. At nearly six metres high, the monument consists of a gilded dog standing to attention on a plinth wrapped round by a video screen showing alabais running happy and free.
In less decadent presidential-dog developments, while the 45th president of the United States delays conceding the election he has lost, the spotlight has fallen on the German Shepherds of the President-Elect. Major (2) and Champ (12) have already starred in a campaign ad that suggests that non-dog-owning presidents are sociopaths, but Rakewell suspects the fur will fly if the First Dogs Elect ever end up, gilded, on a monumental plinth.