Russian President Vladimir Putin, a dog lover, received a top breed puppy as a belated birthday gift on Wednesday (October 11) from Turkmenistan's president who is keen to recover lost Russian markets for Turkmen gas.
President Kurbanguly Berdymukhamedov pulled the pup out from a portable cage and held it up by the scruff of its neck.
Putin, who marked his 65th birthday on Oct. 7, took the puppy, called Verny which means "faithful" in Russian, and kissed it in 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.
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.