Pedigrees crowd Bali's mongrels
The increasing popularity of imported breeds of dogs on Bali has triggered a raft of fashion houses, salons, toy shops, training and etiquette schools catering solely for the pets.
'It is all about prestige,' said Luh Putu Lestriani, who is head of Bali's Association of Veterinary Practitioners and runs a busy practice on the outskirts of Denpasar.
'Pedigree owners have imported shoes, imported clothes, fancy cars and nice houses, so they feel it is part of the image to have a pure-breed dog.'
This explosion in demand for full-blooded canines - most of which are bred on neighbouring Java island - followed a sharp drop in prices after the legalisation of the importation of dogs from 20 rabies-free countries in 1999.
Local businessman Made Supatra, who gets around town in a Mercedes and keeps a rottweiler and a dachshund, said it was possible to buy a full-blood for less than 1 million rupiah (HK$900).
'Imported dogs are not so expensive now there is no black market,' he said. 'And they are good protectors because they like to stay home. Bali dogs become wild as they get older, and they prefer to roam the streets.'
English expatriate Sue Speak said she got a bargain four years ago when she paid just 150,000 rupiah for a miniature pinscher cross-poodle named Ruby Tuesday who holds court over her other three dogs: a German shepherd, golden Labrador and golden retriever, which each cost about 4 million rupiah.
'It's got nothing to do with status,' Ms Speak said as she threw a tennis ball and watched the dogs merge in a jumble of fur after it. 'It's about companionship. I like pedigree dogs because you partly know their personalities when you get them, and they are smart so you can train them.'