Poodles and their owners descended on a Kowloon Bay mall yesterday, stealing hearts and drawing oohs and aahs from the crowd as they danced, leapt and cleared obstacle courses.
The Christmas toy poodle pageant at Telford Plaza aimed to draw attention to proper care for the animals, as one in five Hongkongers now kept pets, one of the event's organisers, Pet Pet Season magazine, said.
The magazine also released figures from its year-long survey to determine Hong Kong's most popular dog breed. So far, 5,964 respondents have put the little guys on top with Pomeranians, pugs, poodles, Shetland sheep dogs and chihuahuas leading the charge.
'It's keeping in trend with the rest of Southeast Asia,' said Celia Chan Mei-yee, one of the judges and the founder of Poodle Dynasty, a shop that sells and breeds poodles.
'People here tend to prefer smaller dogs.'
They say the miniatures are popular because they are better suited to smaller homes in Hong Kong.
And small they are with one 7-month-old contestant, Kan Kan, just the size of two small fists. Small-framed but big on heart, he played Rudolph to a paper Santa pulling his miniature sleigh across the stage to the delight of photographers.
Poodles are said to be among the most intelligent and easily trainable and they showed their prowess while acting like small bears in a Russian circus ring, balancing on rolling barrels, dancing and clearing obstacles for the chance to be best in show and win dog food, poodle-themed goodies and cash coupons.
'It's fun,' says Melo Man Ka-ki, a government employee whose tan poodle Fluffy joined in the pageant organised via Facebook.
'It's hard to tell, but I think Hong Kong is becoming more pet friendly because of the younger generation. Our parents wouldn't let us keep pets, but now we have our own homes, and so the desire to have a pet becomes stronger. And some people don't have kids, so they have dogs instead.'
Pet Pet Season's poll is open until the end of the year.