October 07, 2021

Putin's Pooches

Putin's Pooches
Putin with two of his closest buddies. The nice thing about dogs is they can't tell your rivals any dirty deets. Ria Novosti

After a long day of advertising colognesdiscovering classical amphorae underwater, and poisoning his rivals, Russian President Vladimir Putin likes nothing more than to get home and throw a slobbery frisbee for the domestic animal that lives in his house. Or, at least, that's what we imagine.

Canines are man's best friend, and Putin is no exception.

While the thought of Vladimir Putin rubbing dog pee out of a carpet is a little funny, the reality is that, alongside a mysterious aquadiskoteka, the president of Russia owns and has owned a long dynasty of dogs, who, we assume, are blissfully unaware of who their owner actually is. Notably, too, these have all been pretty large dogs, surprising in a country that gravitates towards smaller pooches.

First, there was Konni (full name "Konni Leod Paulgrave," we're not making this up), a black lab given to Putin in 2000 by Sergei Shoigu. From all photos, Konni looks extremely friendly, and was definitely a good dog. She also has her own Wikipedia page, which is now our favorite Wikipedia page.

In 2008, after participating in a demonstration of Russia's GLONASS satellite GPS navigation technology, Putin asked if he could use it to track Konni. His underlings were quick to find a way to do so, and later in the year, Konni was gifted with a one-of-a-kind GPS-tracking collar, which, to be honest, looked great on her.

Konni with her GPS collar
Who's tracking who here? Konni sporting her stylish, GPS-enabled collar. | Russian Government Images

As a good dog, Konni reportedly knew a number of commands, and would follow Putin almost wherever he'd go. Loyalty, after all, is a great attribute for anyone working with the president.

Konni was so friendly, in fact (remember, she was a very good dog), that she would often escape her confines just to hang out with her friends. During one broadcast Q & A session, Putin reportedly remarked, "Sometimes, Konni leaves a room full of journalists with a very pleased expression on her face and biscuit crumbs around her mouth... Please do not feed my dog." In 2004, she found her way into the Kremlin New Year's party, causing such priceless images as this one:

Konni on new years
"Forget the president, I just want to hang out with the dog." Konni crashing (or, more realistically, totally improving) Putin's New Year's Party, 2004. | Press Office of the Russian President

Her friendliness did cause a little trouble, though. In 2007, Konni enthusiastically burst into a meeting between Putin and German chancellor Angela Merkel. The pet, because she was such a good dog, sniffed Merkel repeatedly and then sat at her feet. Merkel's quip, "She doesn't eat journalists," belied the fact that she has a strong fear of canines, stemming from an attack from a dog as a child. Some have suggested that Putin deliberately released Konni to intimidate the ruler of a rival European state. But if we were to get mauled by a dog, we'd definitely be okay with it being Konni, what with her being a good dog and all.

Poor Konni just wants love. And maybe some treats. | Press Office of the President of Russia

Konni got an official press release when she died in 2014 at age 15, which is a pretty old age for such a good dog.

Putin's more recent four-legged friends are more numerous, but less well-known (They don't even have their own Wikipedia pages! What a travesty). The subsequent canine residents of Putin's palace have all been state gifts, representing national breeds, making for a strange collection of dogs from throughout the world, each one representing the heritage and history of different nations, and, as a collection, making for a great subject of an anthropological study. Fortunately, good dogs are universal.

Putin received a Karakachan dog from Bulgarian president Boyko Borisov in 2010. The dog was named Buffy, chosen by a five-year-old Russian boy during a contest. (What is it with young Russian boys winning dog-related public contests?) We're pretty sure Buffy is a good dog.

In 2012, a Japanese Akita was given to Putin as thanks for Russia's help after a 2011 earthquake and tsunami, dubbed "Yume," meaning "dream." We are unsure whether or not Yume is a good dog, but it's probably safe to assume so.

She was joined by Verni in 2017, an Alabai puppy given to Putin by Turkmenistan's president, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov. In a fairly famous video clip, Berdimuhamedov grabs the dog by the neck, dangling it before Putin pulls it into his arms. Even Putin is a cuddler, it seems, and especially with a good dog like Verni.

What's he whispering? Probably juicy state secrets. | Press Office of the President of Russia

A grown-up Verni is shown playing with an adult Yume in the image at the top of this article. They look like fast friends and, undoubtedly, good dogs.

Most recently, in January 2019, Putin received a Sarplaninac puppy from Serbian president Alexander Vucic, who, much more humanely than his Turkmenistani counterpart, let the dog lie on the ground as he and Putin fawned over it. We weren't able to find its name, but it sure looks like a good dog.

Can you blame them? | Press Office of the President of Russia

It's hard to remember that, at the end of the day, Putin (who, incidentally, turned 69 today) is a person just like us, only with a small cult of personality. Maybe he takes his dogs to the park on Saturdays and gets frustrated when they find a wet mud puddle, and maybe he has to constantly vacuum up dog hair on a regular basis to keep the house looking clean. Maybe he has to hide their meds inside pieces of cold-cut turkey. Probably not (that's what minions are for), but it's a fun thought, all the same.

So who's the real best friend of President Putin? Not rappers or actresses or politicians, but dogs, probably; a few lucky good boys and girls who get tummy rubs from one of the world's most powerful men.


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