Putin Was Just Gifted an Actual Lap Dog. And It's Too Cute for Us to Handle

Eager to recover lost Russian markets for Turkmen gas, Turkmenistan's president gifted Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin with a top breed for his birthday

Russian President Vladimir Putin kisses a Turkmen shepherd dog gifted to him by Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov in Sochi, Russia, October 11, 2017.
Russian President Vladimir Putin kisses a Turkmen shepherd dog gifted to him by Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov in Sochi, Russia, October 11, 2017. MAXIM SHEMETOV/REUTERS

Russian President Vladimir Putin, a dog lover, received a top breed puppy as a belated birthday gift on Wednesday from Turkmenistan's president, who is keen to recover lost Russian markets for Turkmen gas.

"We have a common friend – this is the world's unique alabai dog. And today I brought this little alabai with me," Turkmen President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov said before talks with Putin, pulling the pup out from a portable cage and holding it up by the scruff of its neck. 

Putin, who marked his 65th birthday on October 7, took the puppy, who is called Verny ("faithful" in Russian,) and kissed it on its forehead. 

The alabai is a home-bred Turkmen variety of the Central Asian shepherd dog. Along with the handmade carpets and the ancient Akhal Teke breed of race horses, it is officially listed as part of Turkmenistan's national heritage. 

Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov demonstrates a Turkmen shepherd dog before presenting it to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia, October 11, 2017.
MAXIM SHEMETOV/REUTERS
Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov presents a Turkmen shepherd dog to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin in Sochi, Russia, October 11, 2017.
MAXIM SHEMETOV/REUTERS
Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov shakes hands with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin after presenting him a Turkmen shepherd dog in Sochi, Russia, October 11, 2017.
MAXIM SHEMETOV/AFP
Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a Turkmen shepherd dog received by the Turkmenistan's president in Sochi, Russia, October 11, 2017.
MAXIM SHEMETOV/AFP

Plush and cuddly when they are young, alabai dogs grow into fierce shepherd dogs, fearless in warding off wolves but also in dealing with human strangers. 

Berdymukhamedov, a flamboyant former dentist whose interests range from sport cars to noble horses, enjoys a personality cult and autocratic powers in his desert nation, which sits on the world's fourth-largest natural gas reserves. 

The two men held talks at the Black Sea resort of Sochi, on the sidelines of a summit of ex-Soviet states, with the Turkmen side keen to see a possible resumption of natural gas exports to Russia. 

Russia, once the main buyer of Turkmen gas, stopped buying the fuel last year due to a price dispute. China, with its growing appetite for energy, is now the main market for Turkmen gas. 

Some other foreign leaders including those of Japan and Bulgaria have also given Putin puppies of rare breeds as gifts.