WASHINGTON (CBSDC/AP) — Russian President Vladimir Putin “dissed” then President George W. Bush’s dog while visiting the White House years ago.
Bush recalled the tale to NBC News about when he introduced Putin to Barney the dog.
“Our dear dog Barney, who has a special spot in my heart, I introduced him to Putin. Putin kind of dissed him. ‘You really call that a dog?’” Bush told NBC News about the Russian leader’s reaction.
When Bush and former first lady Laura Bush visited Putin in Moscow the next year, Putin took another swipe at the Scottish terrier.
“He says, ‘You like to meet my dog?’ Out bounds this huge hound, obviously much bigger than a Scottish terrier. And Putin looks at me and says, ‘Bigger, stronger and faster than Barney,’” Bush said.
Bush said he was taken aback by what Putin said.
“I took it in. I didn’t react,” Bush told NBC News. “Anybody who thinks that ‘my dog is bigger than your dog’ is an interesting character.”
Bush also recounted his relationship with Putin, saying that he had a “good relationship” with him but it “became more tense as time went on” during his presidency.
“Vladimir is a person, who in many ways, views the U.S. as an enemy,” Bush told NBC News. “Although he wouldn’t say that, I felt that he viewed the world as either the U.S. benefits and Russia loses or vice versa. I tried of course to dispel him of that notion.”
Including Putin, Bush will display his portraits of world leaders in the first exhibit of his work as an artist.
The exhibit titled “The Art of Leadership: A President’s Personal Diplomacy” opens Saturday at the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum in Dallas. The exhibit runs through June 3.
The exhibit exploring relationships Bush formed with other world leaders will feature more than two dozen never-before-exhibited portraits. Artifacts, photographs and personal reflections will also be displayed.
Bush, who left office in 2009, has said former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, also a painter, was his inspiration to take lessons.
The George W. Bush Presidential Center, which includes the library and museum, is on the Southern Methodist University campus.
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