Tuesday, December 14
Dima Sokolov meets the dog he named
It was a five-year old boy who came up with the name Putin liked best so anything I could say in criticism would make me a humbug. But what a name for such a breed of dog. The puppy was originally named Ares, for the Greek god of war, then the name was changed to Yorgo (after a Bulgarian sea resort); that was before he was gifted to Vladimir Putin.
The original name is far better suited than the second two. The cuddly looks of a Karakachan puppy belie the nature of the breed. Those dogs are warriors -- unafraid to fight bears and wolves to protect their flocks, and they are just as fierce in defending their human charges. Today they're used mostly to guard livestock but they were used extensively for a long time as watchdogs to help the army's border guards.
The Karakachan shepherd is one of Europe's oldest canine breeds, going back to the Third Millennium B.C.; it's descended from the dogs of the Thracians. The Karakachan shepherd's temperament, according to Wikipedia, is "proud, domineering, weary to strangers; a brave and intelligent dog of tough, steady and independent character. ... The Karakachan Dog's bravery and dignity, together with its incredible loyalty, make this dog an invaluable friend and helper."
Ah well. Putin is such a huge animal lover that I think I can see why he chose a cuddly-sounding name above all the others that were submitted by the public:
"It's soft, kind and sounds nice," Putin told Dima.
It seems Putin was unaware of the American TV show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which is aired in Russia, but even though the fictitious Buffy is female she's a fierce fighter, so I suppose that by stretching it one could still claim the male puppy is well-named.
As to Buffy News, he's getting along fine with Koni (or Connie, as some accounts incorrectly refer to Putin's aging Black Labrador). She simply snarls at him when he nips at her ears and tail too much. No word on how the two poodles who belong to Putin's wife are taking to him but given that one of Buffy's first acts on arriving at the Putin household was to pee in Putin's slippers, I don't think the poodles will be a problem for him.
Putin joked to reporters that Buffy "can't do a thing," whereupon the dog contradicted him by obediently sitting on his command.
"The restless canine then weaved among the reporters, pushing his nose right down a camera lens," observed the Associated Press.
A sheepdog is a sheepdog. I've read that it takes about a year for their herding instincts to fully manifest. So, right now he's a playful puppy but a year from now he'll take up his duties as master of the household.
Canada's National Post has culled some Buffy Briefings from various news accounts:
• The PM said he’s growing daily.
• Originally PM Putin said he wasn’t sure how his black lab Connie would interact with Buffy, but Connie was very “friendly” while Buffy likes to pull Connie by the ears, he said.
• The Voice of Russia reported that the PM says Buffy is a “pushy guy.” He likes to open the door by running and getting on his hind legs to then push the door open.
Also, he has found his favorite spot in the house: the kitchen. And he has already gotten used to his new name, responding when he's called "Buffy."
As to the child who provided the winning name for the puppy -- from a Moscow News report:
He said the name was found on the Internet with the help of his parents, Kommersant reported.That last comment is in reference to the 2018 World Cup soccer games, to be held in Russia, for those who've been hanging out in a cave during the past week.
“Our own imagination isn’t that good,” Yulia Sokolova, Dima’s mother, told journalists.
Despite a huge range of suggestions, few names came close to winning Putin’s approval. One other candidate reflected the pet’s Bulgarian roots – and “Balkan” also carried a hint of the traditional Russian dogs’ name Polkan. The dog was given to Putin as a gift last month after Bulgarian PM Boyko Borisov marked the signing of his country’s commitment to the South Stream energy pipeline.
The Sokolovs were invited to meet the Bulgarian shepherd puppy at Putin’s Novo-Ogaryovo dacha.
And little Dima left with a signed football and a call-up to the national youth squad.
“In 2018 you will be 13, and will play for the national youth team,” Putin told the boy, Newsru reported.
All right; here's one last look at a baby picture, taken when he was eight weeks old:
And Buffy as he looks today:
Alexy Druzhinin / AFP / Getty Images