NOTE: BagNewsNotes is now located at Please update your bookmarks.

You will be automatically redirected in a few seconds...

« Since November (#3): Liberal Pricks | Main | Since November (#5): The Look Of Lethality »

Apr 04, 2007

Since November (#4): The Big Dog


While George Bush puppies around with Barney, here's what intimidation really looks like.

You have to check out the whole photo gallery at Spiegel to appreciate how Putin derives almost sadistic pleasure from hounding Merkel with his dog Kani.  (From other pics I've seen lately with other visitors, he's been making a regular habit out of it.)

I don't have the exact date of this meeting, but I believe it occurred in January, closely coinciding with Russia's cut in oil supplies to Poland, Ukraine and Germany.  With Germany dependent on Russia for half its natural gas, that's a very ugly picture.

The canine comparison, by the way, is not an idle one.  Under the White House watch, Putin has had his way with the Administration at almost every opportunity,

This eight day series, titled "Since November," looks at images that have caught The BAG's attention over the past four months. Many are inspired by the change in political landscape following the Democratic Congressional victory in November. In this stretch, I am taking some time off, leaving the site -- and the conversation -- in your hands.

(image: AFP/ITAR TASS.  Sochi, Black Sea.  January 2007.  via  YahooNews caption: Russian President Vladimir Putin and German Chancellor Angela Merkel are watched by Putin's dog Koni. The labrador sauntered into the meeting room in front of reporters at Putin's residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi and sat at Merkel's feet, causing the German chancellor apparent discomfort.)


Are there any pictures of the dog sniffing merkel's crotch? Do you think that since she is so chummy with the chimp that the pooch won't go there?

Poor Merkel. First getting felt up by Bush, now getting leg-humped by a bear. It's not a bear? Sheesh.

Since Bush is so fond of letting the "historians" decide if his choices were right or wrong, I seriously wonder if history isn't just going to take a sour view of his mideast policy or domestic corruption, not to mention fiscal irresponsibility -- but how the focus on those allowed Putin to turn Russia into a dangerous state again. There's no question that Bush's positive view into "Pootie-Poot's" democratic soul was in error.

I can't imagine why he'd have his dog in formal meetings -- to distract the press? to show general disrespect for his visitor? that said, none of these pictures look so shocking to me, nor his face in any way "sadistic"...

Maybe your reaction depends on how you feel about dogs. I've always been afraid of them, and it looks to me like he's using the dog to intimidate her. There are so many ways to manipulate power; I'm sure we've all read about how a person behind the desk projects more power than a person sitting in a more equal position, etc. A huge black dog is not subtle at all.

What's going on in this photo anyway? Is it just where the two leaders sit and smile and get pictures taken? In any case, there's no reason why he should be letting that dog in there - unless maybe he knows that she loves dogs, and she wants the dog there. But it doesn't look that way.

In the later photos, though, Merkel and Putin look pretty comfortable together and in synch - with their clothes, height, and body language... even their coloring.


Big Dog, isn't that a Bill Clinton moniker?

That dog could be a 100 pound'r. She looks like a sweetheart tho. No intimidation, she's a lab!
Just keep her away from the food table at lunch.

Otoh, in some of those pictures in the series Merkel kind of looks a little unsure of the dog. tuna's remark might be answered in picture #5, looks like Merkel's guarding the kitty. That can be an uncomfortable situation for a lady, dogs can get a little too interested in the scent info of a woman. Most owners know if their dog is into that sort of behavior. Ya, Putin's digging the power. Not cool.
But he doesn't care. She's there to beg for energy.

I totally disagree with almost everything everybody has said, including the BAG. Look, Labaradors are just sweet and loving and very needy for affection. They pick out people they like. The "intimidation" by Putin through his doggie is simply that it disarms someone to be confronted with the affection of a loving animal. We are all animals, and this is one instance when we lose the ability to think and just "feel." Putin is playing with Merkel's feelings, to weaken her thinking, but he's not trying to frighten her unless she's afraid of dogs. And, if she were, a Labarador would be the perfect animal to change her fear to affection.

It looks like a nice dog to me. I think it's fair to question Putin's call to let the dog into an important diplomatic meeting, but it's a black lab, fer cryin out loud. Millions of people have them because they're usually cream-puffs, temperamentally speaking. It's not like he has a snarling Pitbull or a Doberman or even a German Shepherd menacing Merkel. Furthermore, the dog's body language is appropriately submissive (lying down with head on floor, following them, sitting beside Merkel).

Putin's body language in the pic above looks half-cocked, as though he's undecided whether to get the dog out of the room or let her stay. Merkel looks a little concerned. And I would say this is a very common scenario for dog owners when their dogs meet new people. Perhaps Putin has spent some time training the dog, but maybe he's not completely sure he can trust her not to sniff or do something inappropriate, so he's ready to give a command. In one of the pics his left hand is slightly raised over his knee as if to give a command.

Perhaps inviting the dog into the room was a way to build common ground. Many people are ok with a nice, well behaved dog, like this dog appears to be. Maybe Putin intended to lower the tension by letting his dog in the room.

Not good. What the hell is that dog doing in there?

Merkel doesn't appear to like the dog or the situation. She never reaches out to touch the dog, which would be natural if she did like dogs in general. She rarely changes the position of her hands, so she wasn't very comfortable in the first place.

After looking at the photo gallery, I too see the "almost sadistic pleasure" in Putin's face on photo #2, which is the one above. Merkel isn't at all happy.

Dog never goes to see Putin.

Didn't Merkel grow up in East Germany- I can't imagine that she has a positive memory of Russia from those days. And now Putin sics his dog on her. And threatens to cut her gas.

'Sadistic pleasure'? I see nothing of a sort. I think too many people are buying into the well promoted mainstream received opinion about Russia and its president.

I guess if Putin had tried to massage Merkel you would have called that attempted murder by strangulation.

Yeah, we have a golden lab. Mellow, mellow.

This dog's demeanor captured in this photo seems a bit guarded...note the eyes, lowered shoulders (lower than the butt). It's a lab for crissakes, not a german shepherd. But some people are not animal people or in particular cat or dog people. Good point of Merkel's growing up in E.Germany.

But viewing the other photos. The dog wants to check out the newest visitor to the house. (It is her house after all) and because this visitor doesn't respond 'appropriately' and certainly not enthusiastically, she decides this is the one to hang with.

Remember my friend who beat breast cancer? She didn't like dogs particularly. So just guess who 'Floyd' the bird dog of another friend always went straight to when we were over - and there was that crotch thing, too. Poor Floyd, he was either relegated to being outdoors or in "the other room."

I don't see that Putin is amused due to Merkel's reaction to his dog seems more about his fondness for the dog. Merkel may indeed like dogs, but just may very well wonder - what the hell is this dog doing here?! Is she KGB?!

Looking at the gallery mellows the perception of this single image. This points out the fallacy of using one image to represent a meeting (or anything). It also represents the power of using a single image to tell a story, which, I guess is the Bag's point in many cases..

This huge, bear-like puppy is no threat. Dog fears aside, what I see is Putin being comfortable and choosing to be comfortable in his own home (?). It's his house and he has a dog and he's the boss and if you don't like it -- whatever. He's not being "proper", he's being himself. The dog is there because he says so. It's a little assertive, but not radically agressive.

The dog seems to like Merkel, too. Very much. Which could give Putin an additional "gut" instinct on which to rely.

Re: the Iraq war in general

(also see this post)

Ever since the months prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq, there have been a few reports in the newspapers that the Central Intelligence Agency was casting aspersions on the intelligence the White House was relying on to justify the war. The CIA has never given a position on whether the war is needed or justified or said that Bush is wrong to go to war. But doesn't it seem much more likely that the CIA is an extremely right wing organization than a left wing one? After all, even if the people working for them and at least a lot of the leadership really wanted a war for their own reasons, there are a lot of reasons for them to not want to tie their credibility to what they know is faulty information. They and their personnel, present and former, could use other means of promoting the Iraq war, and still be motivated to make the statements in the media. If the CIA got behind faulty information, they would have to make a choice between whether they would be involved in scamming the American people and the world once the military had invaded Iraq and no weapons were found- so: 1) Imagine the incredible difficulties involved in pulling off a hoax that weapons of mass destruction were found in Iraq. Imagine all the people you would have to be able to show the weapons to- the inspectors from the UN / the international community, the American press, statesmen, etc. Then imagine the difficulties of substantiating that story to people who would examine it- the lack of witnesses to a production plant that made the weapons or to transportation operations or storage of the weapons during Hussein's regime of them. 2) If the story fell apart upon inspection or the CIA tried not to hoax it at all, imagine the loss of credibility they would suffer. The CIA, it is safe to bet, does not want to be known to the American people as a group that lies to them to send them to war. Even within the CIA there could be disagreement among people about how involved they should be in promoting the war or the neo-con agenda more broadly, so the CIA would have to worry about lying to and managing its own people after trying so hard to get them to trust their superiors in the agency, and perhaps there simply might be too many people in the agency who knew enough about what was going on in Iraq to know if someone was deceiving people to promote this war.

So there is a lot of reason to be cautious against being seen as endorsing what they knew was false intelligence even if they were very strong supporters of going to war.

nice doggy...nice, no, doggy...doggy, be nice, not my leg, doggy, please not my l...

Margaret, "Labradors are just sweet and loving and very needy for affection" - well they consistently rank in about sixth place for biting in North America, behind Chows, Pit Bulls, Rottweilers, Dobermans and Shepherds.

"According to statistics kept by city of Boulder Animal Care and Control, "labs" — as they are so innocently called — were responsible for an astonishing 18.9 percent of the 748 dog bites in the city from 1997 to 2003, more than twice as many as the next highest breed (German shepherds, at 8.5 percent)."

I believe owners not understanding or training their animals contribute more than 80% to this problem regardless of the breed.

True...also because Labs are such a popular breed, the odds are that they would rank so high. Still, they are excellent family pets, if you take the time to learn and understand them.

She is an evident dog-phobe. Did Putin do that much homework?

Especially since she could have owned the photo shoot by at least acknowledging such an "intimidating" dog that puts his head on our lap. That alone and better still - getting down on the floor to play with the dog would have made Putin's game (if that is what it was ) impossible. AND A GREAT PHOTO SHOOT.

All in all I'd rather have a dog in my lap than a Bush on my shoulder.

Well, I know that cats will pick out the one person in a room that hates cats and jump up onto their laps. I've seen them do it. I don't believe a dog will do that, they tend to shun people who don't like them. I agree with Marley about the pooch displaying appropriate 'calm-submissive' behavior. Maybe what we see here is that the pooch is shunning Putin, seeing Merkel as the only safe harbor in a sea of abuse. In fact, neither pooch, Putin nor Merkel seem all too happy to be in the same room.

Bulletin to swan: .....And that relates to Putin's pooch, how?

Regarding labs and biting statistics...

The more popular the breed, the more likely that people breed the dogs irresponsibly - meaning a couple of neighbors get together, mate their dogs and sell the pups. This practice leads to dogs that get sick and/or have other behavioral issues. Also, people frequently don't bother to learn about dog training, especially when they have an easy-going dog. Some people think certain dogs are fool proof, but all dogs need to learn bite inhibition as pups. If they don't, you have a false sense of security. The first time something goes really wrong the dog may do damage with its mouth. Then the dog gets blamed, put to sleep, whatever.

Which is all simply to say that dog problems are frequently caused by ignorant humans.

So someone remembered "Pootie-Poot", do you also remember when Bush thought the Taleban were a rock band? Alas, the days of innocence! Those were the days my friend...

The gallery definitely mellows it a bit, and also emphasises the fact that Merkel is visiting Putin at his dacha, rather than in the Kremlin.

The dog sits with the stranger, not her owner. She is saying, "Get me outta here!" Merkel feigns indifferences, but later smuggles the asylum seeking dog to the free world.

Labs account for so many bites in part because they are considered such friendly dogs that people often leave them unattended with small children who may be all too willing to kick and punch the dog believing that its charitable disposition will save them. On the whole, they tend to be among the friendliest and most intelligent dogs one might encounter.

If Putin wanted to intimidate, there are plenty of breeds that would have been far more effective.

Nope, the Big Lab is not intimidating Merkl. Yes, she's big. But every other picture shows that Koni likes Merkl, and I'm guessing is sad to see her go. Final analysis: Putin uses Koni as a bullshit detector.

If that's the case, Bush must drive the poor posh insane!

Everyone seems so bored, in all these Head of State meetings. What is the point? Nothing substantive, just grin and pose, .. for the history books.

This just shows that the Kremlin is a friendly, bring-your-dog-to-work place, sort of like some Silicon Valley start up.

Yeah. The shiny, sweet lab looks like he likes Chancellor Merkel. Much more tame than the neck rubber. Definitely smarter.

That's a female lab being territorial when another female comes around her master. My female german shepherd behaves exactly like that when my husband's ex-wife comes around. Notice how the dog can't keep her eyes off Putin.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

My Other Accounts

Blog powered by TypePad
Member since 07/2003