Konni (dog)

Connie Paulgrave
Ко́нни По́лгрейв

Konni in August 2001
Other name(s) Connie Paulgrave (Ко́нни По́лгрейв)
Breed Labrador Retriever
Sex Female
Born 1999
Died 2014 (aged 15 years)[1]
Offspring At least eight puppies

Konni (Russian: Ко́нни, 1999–2014), full name Connie Paulgrave[2] (Ко́нни По́лгрейв), also known as Connie, was a female black Labrador Retriever belonging to the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin. Konni was often seen at the President's side, including at staff meetings, and when Putin greeted world leaders during their visits to Russia.


Konni, full name Connie Paulgrave, was born in 1999 at a cynology centre located at the Ministry of Emergency Situations in Noginsk, where she was to be trained as a search and rescue dog.[3][4] Konni's parents are Henrietta Bush (mother) and Alkor Ross Bradford (father).[5]

In December 2000, Konni was presented to President Vladimir Putin as a gift by Sergey Shoygu.[4]

On 7 December 2003, the day of the 2003 legislative election, Konni gave birth to eight puppies.[2] One pup named Darina was given to a pensioner in Novozolotovka, Neklinovsky District of Rostov Oblast. Another pup, named Oscar, was given to a six-year-old girl in Smolensk. Two pups were given to the President of Austria, Thomas Klestil, as a symbol of Austrian-Russian friendship.[2][6] The two pups are with Klestil's widow, Margot Klestil-Löffler, who is now the Austrian Ambassador to the Czech Republic and has the dogs living with her in Prague. In December 2009, she was appointed Austrian Ambassador to Russia, so they all returned to Moscow. Klestil-Löffler says that the two dogs, named Olya and Orhi, have helped her deal with her husband's death.[7] Another of Konni's pups was employed by rescue services in Vladikavkaz in North Ossetia–Alania.[8]

Relationship with Vladimir Putin

Konni with Putin in 2001.

Since Konni became part of the Putin family, she was featured largely in the life of the President, and was regularly at her master's side.[9] In 2007, organisers of the Saint Petersburg Economic Forum, which is a regional meeting of the World Economic Forum, wrote to the Presidential Administration requesting a photograph of the President for his accreditation badge, and the Putin Administration sent back to the organisers a photograph of Putin sitting in an armchair next to a fireplace with Konni lying at his feet.[10]

Answering a question at a press conference, Putin stated that, like everyone else, he too has occasional bad moods, and explained:

"In those situations I try to consult with my dog Konni, who gives me good advice."[9][11]

Konni responded to simple commands given to her by Putin, including "down!" (Russian: Лежать!, Lezhat!), "sit!" (Сидеть!, Sidet'!), "heel!" (Рядом!, Ryadom!), "go!" (Фас!, Fas!) and "bark!" (Голос!, Golos!), in addition to shaking hands.[4]

Although Konni was, for the most part, allowed to attend meetings with Putin, on occasion she was kept away from such functions. Rossiyskaya Gazeta recalled an incident in 2003, when journalists travelled to Sochi to discuss various issues with the President. Upon arrival at Bocharov Ruchei, Konni, who was described as cheerful and inquisitive, greeted the journalists. When it came time to start the meeting, Putin's security detail stopped Konni from following him. As the journalists and Putin started walking down the staircase, Konni rushed towards them and began to bark loudly at Putin. Irena Lesnevskaya, the President of REN TV, asked "So who else here can so bark at the President?" Konni, in what appeared to be an expression of dissatisfaction in not being allowed to "participate" in the meeting, continued barking, and refused several orders by Putin to come to him, leading Lesnevskaya to ask, "So who else can disobey the President?"[12]

In the public eye

In December 2004, Konni was taken to a children's New Year's Eve party at the State Kremlin Palace by Putin.[2] While Putin was on stage giving a speech to the media, politicians and the public, Konni escaped from her holdings and joined her owner on stage.[13]

Konni as Putin's foreign affairs advisor in the comic strip published by Ogoniok.

Konni gained fame when Detskaya Literatura, one of the oldest publishing houses and the largest publisher of children's books, published a book in 2004, entitled Connie's Stories. The 60-page book written by Irina Borisova in English, chronicles the life and adventures of a Black Labrador named "Connie"; at the end it is revealed that Connie (Konni) is the President's dog.[14][15][16]

Konni gained additional public exposure when she was present at an April meeting with Putin and President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, in Sochi.[2] Konni's visibility in the meetings of Putin with world leaders led to the publication by Ogoniok of a satirical series of comic strips that features Konni as an advisor to Putin on matters relating to the foreign relations of Russia.[16][17]

Konni wearing a GLONASS-enabled collar in October 2008.

In July 2006, in an online conference organised by Yandex and the BBC, Putin revealed that Konni ate two to three times a day and had a penchant for porridge with meat. During the same online Question and Answer session, Putin reiterated a request that he had previously made on his website for people not to feed Konni, stating:

"Sometimes, Konni leaves a room full of journalists with a very pleased expression on her face and biscuit crumbs around her mouth... Please do not feed my dog."[13][18]

In December 2007, Sergey Ivanov updated Putin on the progress of the Russian Global Navigation Satellite System GLONASS, when Putin enquired whether he would be able to buy a device hooked into GLONASS that would allow him to keep track of Konni. Ivanov advised Putin that collars for pets would be available in mid-2008.[19] The collar was demonstrated to Putin on Konni on 17 October 2008, making Konni the first recipient of a GLONASS-enabled pet collar.[20]

Russian politics

In February 2005, the We Youth Movement, a member of The Other Russia coalition, started a campaign to promote Konni for President. It was the opinion of the group that no matter who won the 2008 Russian Presidential election the operating Head of State would remain the same, and hence Konni would make the best candidate.[21] Georgy Satarov, a key member of The Other Russia, believed that if Putin were to have endorsed Konni as his successor, then 40% of the electorate would have voted for the Labrador, given that 40% of the people would have voted for whomever Putin endorsed for the election.[22]

Russian foreign affairs

Konni at a meeting with Putin and Angela Merkel.

Konni became a symbol of friendly meetings between the Russian President and world leaders, and was allowed to attend official meetings.[23][24]

A popular anecdote was when the Chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, met President Vladimir Putin, Putin brought Konni to their meetings. On 21 January 2007, the two leaders met at Bocharov Ruchei, the President's summer residence in Sochi, and at the beginning of their meeting Konni wandered into the room, leading Putin to ask Merkel, who reportedly has a "deep-seated fear of dogs", "The dog does not bother you, does she? She's a friendly dog and I'm sure she will behave herself."[25] Merkel responded in Russian, a language in which she is fluent, "She doesn't eat journalists, after all."[26] Konni then proceeded to sniff the German Chancellor, and sat at her feet. Merkel was reported to have shown "apparent discomfort".[27] Putin later said that, after learning of Merkel's fear of dogs, he apologized to her.[28]

At a meeting with Putin in Sochi in March 2003, and again in April 2005, President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, who regarded Konni as a "friend", attempted to call the dog to him; however, Konni did not respond, except for yawning at the Belarusian President on several occasions, before getting up and going over to the journalists who had gathered to cover the meeting.[29][30]


Konni died in late 2014, at age 15 years old, and this was reported in the press in February 2015.[1]


  1. 1 2 У Путина умерла лабрадор Конни, а у Медведева – кот Дорофей. sobesednik.ru. 4 February 2015
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 "Putin's lab bitch prominent negotiator". RIA Novosti. 9 April 2005. Archived from the original on 31 July 2013. Retrieved 22 December 2008.
  3. Семейная тайна Кони, лабрадорши Путина. Express Gazeta (in Russian). 16 August 2006. Retrieved 23 December 2008.
  4. 1 2 3 Владимир Путин: Лежать! Фас! Голос!. Komsomolskaya Pravda (in Russian). 25 July 2001. Retrieved 23 December 2008.
  5. de Lavigne, Guillaume (2015). "Koni". LES CHIENS CELEBRES, Réels et Fictifs, dans l'Art, la Culture et l'Histoire (in French). Lulu. pp. 177–178. ISBN 978-1-326-03565-5.
  6. Alexeev, Mikhail (4 October 2005). "An Answer for Everything". Kommersant. Retrieved 12 December 2008.
  7. Нелегкая судьба щенков Путина. Leningradskaya Pravda (in Russian). 9 December 2004. Retrieved 24 December 2008.
  8. Дочь собаки Путина помогает спасателям Владикавказа (in Russian). OSRadio. 3 January 2007. Retrieved 22 December 2008.
  9. 1 2 Blomfield, Adrian (3 February 2007). "I consult my dog, she gives good advice". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 24 December 2008.
  10. Milova, Yevgenia (13 June 2007). "Professional Party Animals". Kommersant. Retrieved 24 December 2008.
  11. Стенографический отчет о пресс-конференции для российских и иностранных журналистов (in Russian). President of Russia. 1 February 2007. Archived from the original on 22 February 2012. Retrieved 24 December 2008.
  12. Vorobev, Vladislav (20 August 2004). Чуть помедленнее, Кони!. Rossiyskaya Gazeta (in Russian). Retrieved 24 December 2008.
  13. 1 2 "Vladimir Putin To Press "Don't Feed My Dog"". K9 Magazine. Retrieved 21 December 2008.
  14. Любимая собака Путина заговорила по-английски с детьми (in Russian). NEWSru. 19 July 2005. Retrieved 2 December 2009.
  15. "Putin plans to buy satellite navigation system for his dog". RIA Novosti. 24 December 2007. Retrieved 24 December 2008.
  16. 1 2 "A Book About Putin Through His Dog's Eyes". The Moscow Times. 19 July 2005.
  17. Graur, Nellie (April 2006). ""Putiniada" de la ultimul Tirg de carte moscovit". Observator Cultural (in Romanian). Retrieved 24 December 2008.
  18. Ответы на вопросы, поступившие к интернет-конференции Президента России 6 июля 2006 года (in Russian). President of Russia. 12 July 2006. Archived from the original on 22 February 2012. Retrieved 21 December 2008.
  19. Shchedrov, Oleg (24 December 2007). "Can Russian GPS system track my dog? Putin asks". Reuters. Retrieved 24 December 2008.
  20. "Prime Minister Vladimir Putin chaired a meeting on expanding the Global Navigation Satellite System (GLONASS)". Prime Minister of Russia. 17 October 2008. Retrieved 24 December 2008.
  21. Путинского лабрадора Кони объявили кандидатом в президенты РФ (in Russian). Novy Region. 2 March 2007. Retrieved 24 December 2008.
  22. Перемен, мы ждем перемен? (in Russian). Finam. 13 September 2007. Retrieved 24 December 2008.
  23. Barakhova, Alla; Volkhonsky, Boris (14 June 2005). "Talks at the Former Level". Kommersant. Retrieved 24 December 2008.
  24. "Putin and the animals". Pravda. 2 December 2008. Retrieved 21 December 2008.
  25. Bohlen, Celestine (16 June 2014). "Putin Puts Tough Image Before Words", The New York Times.
  26. Начало встречи с Федеральным канцлером ФРГ Ангелой Меркель (in Russian). President of Russia. 21 January 2007. Archived from the original on 22 February 2012. Retrieved 21 December 2008.
  27. "Germany and Russia Try to Smooth Over Energy Tensions". Der Spiegel. 22 January 2007. Retrieved 21 December 2008.
  28. "BILD-Interview with Russian President Vladimir Putin - Politik Ausland - Bild.de" "I wanted to make her happy. When I learned that she does not like dogs, I apologized, of course." January 11, 2016
  29. Kolesnikov, Andrey (5 April 2005). "Vladimir Putin Agrees on Everything with Aleksandr Lukashenko". Kommersant. Retrieved 24 December 2008.
  30. Bazylyuk, Marina (23 November 2003). Шапка Мономаха и Конни Полгрейв. Novye Izvestia (in Russian). Retrieved 24 December 2008.
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