Japan Gives Putin a New Puppy

MOSCOW - Russian President Vladimir Putin has a new furry four-legged friend.

A 3-month old Akita Inu puppy named Yume, a gift from the Japanese prefecture of Akita, arrived in Moscow aboard an Aeroflot flight from Tokyo.

According to the Russian news agency Interfax, the Japanese embassy distributed a statement from the regional government saying they gave Putin the dog because he is "a great lover of dogs." The statement said the gift was meant to show gratitude for Russia's assistance after last year's earthquake and tsunami and to congratulate Putin on his return to the presidency.

The pup arrived a day before Putin is to meet with Japan's Foreign Minister in the Black Sea resort town of Sochi.

Their talks were expected to include a discussion about a disputed chain of islands that each country lays claim to. The Russians call them the Kuril Islands. The Japanese call them the Chishima Islands.

Putin is known to be a dog lover and often seen with his black labrador, Koni.

This is not the first animal gifted to the Russian leader. In 2010 Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov gave him a Bulgarian shepherd puppy named Baffi. In 2008 he received an Amur tiger cub named Masha for his birthday (it lived in a zoo). In 2005 he was given a horse named Vadik during a visit to the region of Tatarstan.

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