They are no 'slumdogs' but 'millionaires' in their own right. Being man's best friend is working well for some dogs these days.
Carrying price tags that match up to the showroom prices of Mercedes cars, exhibit dogs are catching the fancy of dog lovers. And if the craze here to own the best breeds of dogs is anything to go by, the dog's life is surely headed to become life worth living.
At the annual dog show held here Sunday by the Chandigarh Kennel Club (CKC), hundreds of people turned out with their canines. On the catwalk were dogs with price tags ranging from Rs.2,500 to a whopping Rs.4 million (Rs.40 lakh).
Jacob, an Afghan hound, was the centre of attraction at the show with its supposed market value of Rs.4 million. The hound had come here for the show from Bangalore, with a team of four caretakers, two Australian trainers and two Indian helpers.
"Jacob is not for 4 or 5 lakhs (Rs.400,000-500,000). He is more expensive than one can even think of. However, I cannot disclose the exact price as we are not allowed to do this," said H.N. Lalit, one of the caretakers.
"K.S. Balakrishna, the owner of Jacob, could not come here, but he is very passionate about dogs and has many such expensive dogs," Lalit added.
Gurbej Singh, one of the organisers and general secretary of CKC, told IANS: "We are organising this dog show for the last 32 years and it has transformed from a normal get- together of dog lovers to a big classy affair. Many elite breeds of dogs from various countries like China, Australia, Afghanistan, Canada and Germany are participating here."
The annual dog show here has become a hunting ground for prospective dog-keepers to look for a canine of their choice. Pugs, the dog made popular by the Vodafone advertisement, is one of the most sought-after breeds. Price tags for a Pug pup start at Rs.40,000.
From petite Chihuahuas, Pugs and Lhasa Apsos to big German Shepherds, Rottweilers, Dobermans and Dalmatians to huge Great Danes and Saint Bernards, all were on display at the show.
Over 300 dogs of 45 breeds participated. Besides walking the ramp, they did everything else that dogs do, but they did it in air-conditioned kennels, enjoying the admiring glances of thousands of spectators, especially youngsters, who thronged the show.
Apart from Jacob, another crowd-puller was three-year-old white Poodle Jojo, who arrived with his hair-stylist from Chile and grooming expert from Thailand.
"Apart from its dashing looks, Jojo is a very intelligent dog. It is probably one of the best-groomed and well-trained dogs on this earth. Earlier also it has won prizes at various competitions in New Delhi, Chennai, Agra, Mumbai and in Goa," said Mariano Santo, the Chilean hair-stylist.
Talking about Jojo's price, Santo said: "It is very big, everyone cannot afford this. It easily goes over one million. Besides the monthly expenditure is also immense as we have to give him a special protein-rich diet every day."
Dog enthusiast Gursatjit Sandhu had come to the show with dotted Dalmatian George and Chinese Sarpei Bush.
"I bought George for $10,000 and Bush for $7,000 last year, both from Perth in Australia. Their monthly expenditure on diet and maintenance easily goes up to nearly Rs.100,000," said Sandhu.
There were quite a few Chinese Sarpeis, a breed once declared endangered. They attracted many spectators with their deep wrinkles, muzzled faces and blue-black tongues.
Bollywood actress and former Miss India Gul Panag, who grew up in this city, was at the show too, with her family dogs.