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Image: Vladimir Putin with dog, Buffy
RIA Novosti  /  Reuters
Smile for the camera! Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin pets Buffy, his new Bulgarian shepherd, at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow on Thursday.
By
updated 12/9/2010 4:25:56 PM ET 2010-12-09T21:25:56

Vladimir Putin has named his new dog Buffy, but there was no sign in a walkabout for the cameras Thursday that the Bulgarian shepherd had any vampire-slaying tricks.

In fact, Putin said the dog "can't do a thing" in comments carried by Russian news agencies.

But Buffy, a cute caramel-and-white-patched puppy, contradicted Putin, obediently sitting on his command. The restless canine then weaved among the reporters, pushing his nose right down a camera lens.

A 5-year-old boy won a competition to find a name for the dog, which Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov gave to Putin in Sofia last month.

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"It's soft, kind and sounds nice," Putin told the boy, Dima.

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Buffy will now have to compete with Koni, a black Labrador, for Putin's affection.

Though U.S. TV show "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" is shown in Russia, it is unlikely Putin was aware of it.

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Putin, who was referred to as "Alpha Dog" by U.S. diplomats in a leaked diplomatic cable published recently by WikiLeaks, is in his element around animals. They bring out his softer side, a counterbalance to his stern media persona of a man who rules with an iron fist, despite officially holding lower rank as prime minister than President Dmitry Medvedev.

Putin has been pictured riding horses, tagging tigers and polar bears, feeding deer bottled milk and swimming with dolphins.

His persistent presence under the media spotlight suggests he may run for a third term as president in 2012.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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