Dog lover Putin gets top breed pup as gift from Turkmen leader

SOCHI, Russia (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," 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 Oct. 7, took the puppy, called Verny which means "faithful" in Russian, and kissed it in its forehead.

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Turkmen leader gifts Vladimir Putin a puppy
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Turkmen leader gifts Vladimir Putin a puppy
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) kisses a Turkmen shepherd dog, locally known as Alabai, presented by Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov during a meeting in Sochi, Russia October 11, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov (L) presents a Turkmen shepherd dog, locally known as Alabai, to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin during a meeting in Sochi, Russia October 11, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Russian President Vladimir Putin kisses a Turkmen shepherd dog, locally known as Alabai, presented by Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov during a meeting in Sochi, Russia October 11, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a Turkmen shepherd dog, locally known as Alabai, presented by Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov during a meeting in Sochi, Russia October 11, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Turkmenistan's President Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov (L) shakes hands with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin after presenting him a Turkmen shepherd dog, locally known as Alabai, during a meeting in Sochi, Russia October 11, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
SOCHI, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 12: (RUSSIA OUT) Russian President Vladimir Putin watches his new Central Asian Shepherd puppy presented to him by Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymuhakmedov (not pictured) during their meeting on October 12, 2017 in Sochi, Russia. Leaders of ex-Soviet states have gathered in Sochi for the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Eurasian Economic Union (EES) summits. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 12: (RUSSIA OUT) Russian Presidential Press Secretary Dmitry Peskov holds Russian President Vladimir Putin's new Central Asian Shepherd puppy presented to him by Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymuhakmedov (not pictured) during their meeting on October 12, 2017 in Sochi, Russia. Leaders of ex-Soviet states have gathered in Sochi for the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Eurasian Economic Union (EES) summits. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 12: (RUSSIA OUT) Russian President Vladimir Putin holds his new Central Asian Shepherd puppy presented to him by Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymuhakmedov (not pictured) during their meeting on October 12, 2017 in Sochi, Russia. Leaders of ex-Soviet states have gathered in Sochi for the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Eurasian Economic Union (EES) summits. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)
SOCHI, RUSSIA - OCTOBER 12: (RUSSIA OUT) Russian President Vladimir Putin caresses his new Central Asian Shepherd puppy presented to him by Turkmen President Gurbanguly Berdymuhakmedov (not pictured) during their meeting on October, 12, 2017 in Sochi, Russia. Leaders of ex-Soviet states have gathered in Sochi for the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and Eurasian Economic Union (EES) summits. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)
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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.

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.

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Vladimir Putin with animals
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Vladimir Putin with animals
Russian President Vladimir Putin and his dog named Yume, which was presented to Putin by Japan's northern Akita Prefecture in July 2012, welcome Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe upon Abe's arrival for their meeting in Sochi, Russia, in this photo taken by Kyodo February 8, 2014. Mandatory credit Kyodo/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. MANDATORY CREDIT. JAPAN OUT.
Russian President Vladimir Putin watches a Przewalski's horse in preparation to release it from an acclimation pen at a reserve for wild horses outside Orenburg, Russia, October 3, 2016. Sputnik/Kremlin/Alexei Druzhinin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY.
Russian President Vladimir Putin feeds Przewalski's horses in preparation to release them from an acclimation pen at a reserve for wild horses outside Orenburg, Russia, October 3, 2016. Sputnik/Kremlin/Alexei Druzhinin via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a cat while inspecting reconstruction of houses for people who suffered from wildfires in the village of Krasnopolye at the Siberian Khakasiya region, Russia, September 4, 2015. REUTERS/Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/Kremlin ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS.
Russian President Vladimir Putin holds a Persian leopard during his visit to the Persian Leopard Breeding and Rehabilitation Centre in the Sochi national park near Sochi February 4, 2014. REUTERS/Alexei Nikolsky/RIA Novosti/Kremlin (RUSSIA - Tags: POLITICS ANIMALS) ATTENTION EDITORS - FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Russia's President Vladimir Putin (C) stands near reindeers in the Siberian Federal District July 20, 2013. Picture taken July 20, 2013. REUTERS/Alexei Nikolskyi/RIA Novosti/Pool (RUSSIA - Tags: POLITICS ENVIRONMENT ANIMALS) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Russia's President Vladimir Putin poses for a picture beside reindeers in the Siberian Federal District July 20, 2013. Picture taken July 20, 2013. REUTERS/Alexei Nikolskyi/RIA Novosti/Pool (RUSSIA - Tags: POLITICS ENVIRONMENT) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Russia's President Vladimir Putin leans to touch a dolphin as he visits the Primorsky Aquarium, which is under construction, on the Russky Island in the far eastern city of Vladivostok, September 1, 2013. REUTERS/Alexei Nikolskyi/RIA Novosti/Kremlin (RUSSIA - Tags: POLITICS ANIMALS) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Russia's President Vladimir Putin poses for a picture as he fishes in the Krasnoyarsk territory in the Siberian Federal District July 20, 2013. Picture taken July 20, 2013. REUTERS/Alexei Nikolskyi/RIA Novosti/Kremlin (RUSSIA - Tags: POLITICS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Russia's President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with a walrus during his visit to the Primorsky Aquarium, which is under construction, on the Russky Island in the far eastern city of Vladivostok, September 1, 2013. Picture taken September 1, 2013. REUTERS/Alexei Nikolskyi/RIA Novosti/Kremlin (RUSSIA - Tags: POLITICS ANIMALS) ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Russia's President Vladimir Putin lies on the snow during a walk with dogs in Moscow Region, March 24, 2013. Putin walked with Bulgarian shepherd and Akita Inu breeds of dogs, according to RIA Novosti news agency. Picture taken March 24, 2013. REUTERS/Alexsey Druginyn/RIA Novosti/Pool (RUSSIA - Tags: POLITICS ANIMALS) THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Russia's President Vladimir Putin lies on snow during a walk with dogs in Moscow Region, March 24, 2013. Putin walked with Bulgarian shepherd and Akita Inu breeds of dogs, according to RIA Novosti news agency. Picture taken March 24, 2013.REUTERS/Alexsey Druginyn/RIA Novosti/Pool (RUSSIA - Tags: POLITICS ANIMALS) THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Russian President Vladimir Putin (L) touches an octopus as he visits an oceanarium on the Russky Island in Vladivostok, September 6, 2012. Putin will take part in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit. REUTERS/Ria NovostiMikhail Klimentyev/Pool (RUSSIA - Tags: POLITICS ANIMALS) THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Dima Sokolov (front R), the boy who has proposed the dog's name for Putin, play with the Bulgarian shepherd dog named Buffy at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow December 9, 2010. REUTERS/Alexsey Druginyn/RIA Novosti/Pool (RUSSIA - Tags: POLITICS ANIMALS) THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin plays with his Bulgarian shepherd dog named Buffy at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow, December 9, 2010. REUTERS/Alexsey Druginyn/RIA Novosti/Pool (RUSSIA - Tags: POLITICS SOCIETY ANIMALS) THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boiko Borisov reacts as Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (L) hugs a Bulgarian shepherd dog presented by Borisov as a gift in Sofia, November 13, 2010. Putin is in Bulgaria on one day working visit. REUTERS/Oleg Popov (BULGARIA - Tags: POLITICS ANIMALS)
Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin hugs a Bulgarian shepherd dog, after receiving it as a present from Bulgaria's Prime Minister Boiko Borisov (not seen) in Sofia, November 13, 2010. Putin is in Bulgaria on a one day working visit. REUTERS/Oleg Popov (BULGARIA - Tags: POLITICS ANIMALS IMAGES OF THE DAY)
Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin rides a horse as he takes part in an expedition to Ubsunur Hollow Biosphere Preserve to inspect the snow leopard's habitat in Tyva Republic in the Siberian Federal District October 29, 2010. REUTERS/Ria Novosti/Pool/Alexei Druzhinin (RUSSIA - Tags: POLITICS ENVIRONMENT ANIMALS IMAGES OF THE DAY) THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin feeds a young elk at the national park 'Losiny Ostrov' (Elk Island) in northeast Moscow, June 5, 2010. REUTERS/RIA Novosti/Pool/Alexei Druzhinin (RUSSIA - Tags: ANIMALS ENVIRONMENT POLITICS)
Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin rides a horse during his working visit to the Siberian Khakasiya region near Karatash settlement outside the city of Abakan February 25, 2010. REUTERS/Ria Novosti/Alexei Druzhinin/Pool (RUSSIA - Tags: POLITICS ANIMALS)
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin (2nd R), Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov (2nd L), the head of a Russian research institute for space instrument making Yuri Urlich (L), and the head constructor of a new Russian satellite global positioning system, Evgenny Belyanko, stand around Putin's dog Koni that wears a GPS device on its collar in the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow October 17, 2008. Putin's black labrador Koni on Friday received a collar, which will help its master monitor her movements through Russia's news sattelite global positioning system GLONASS. REUTERS/RIA Novosti/Pool (RUSSIA)
Russian President Vladimir Putin leads an Arabian horse at the opening ceremony of the riding school for children outside Moscow on October 20, 2002. Putin presented the horse to the new school.
- FILE POTO TAKEN 26JUL02 - File picture shows Russian President Vladimir Putin as he rides a horse outside Moscow, July 26, 2002. (Credit : REUTERS/ITAR-TASS/KREMLIN PRESS SERVICE REUTERS)
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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.

(Reporting by Denis Pinchuk; Additional reporting by Olzhas Auyezov in Almaty; Writing by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Richard Balmforth)

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