Yume was given to the Russian president by the governor of Japan’s Akita prefecture as a three-month-old puppy four years ago, in a symbolic gesture of gratitude to Russia for its help following the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.
On Tuesday, Putin was scheduled to give an interview to Nippon TV and Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper ahead of a landmark visit to Japan, and the Kremlin said that the journalists requested to check up on how well the dog was doing in her new homeland.
Putin obliged, and brought Yume to the pre-interview photo-call – but this is where things went rapidly off-script.
As the presidential pool cameras clicked, the dog began barking loudly and inching towards the interviewers, who stood frozen with – somewhat mortified – smiles, as the scene threatened to turn into an international incident.
Putin, who was holding the leash, remained unperturbed, before pulling out dog treats from the pocket of his business suit. This seemed to have the desired effect, with Yume eating out of Putin’s palm and rising on her hind legs, to the delight of the press pack.
The dog was then led away so the interview could commence.
“I was told that you wanted to see my dog, Yume. You can see that she is in great shape,” began Putin.
Yomiuri Shimbun Managing Editor Takeshi Mizoguchi admitted that he was “surprised” and “scared” by the dog.