Russia's prime minister, Vladimir Putin, cuddles a Karakachan (Bulgarian shepherd) dog after receiving him as a present from Bulgaria's prime minister, Boyko Borisov, (not pictured) in Sofia, Bulgaria, on Nov. 13. Mr. Putin said on a live TV broadcast on Dec. 16 that he loves his new puppy, despite the messes he leaves around the house. Oleg Popov/Reuters
Vladimir Putin hugs his new dog as Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov looks on in Sofia, Bulgaria, on Nov. 13. Mr. Borisov gave the dog to Mr. Putin, who was in Bulgaria on a working visit. Oleg Popov/Reuters
Vladimir Putin and Dima Sokolov play with Buffy, Mr. Putin's new puppy, at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow on Dec. 9. The boy won a competition to name the dog. Alexei Druzhinin, RIA Novosti/AP
Vladimir Putin plays with his dog Buffy at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow on Dec. 9. Alexei Druzhinin/RIA Novosti/AP
Vladimir Putin plays with Buffy at the Novo-Ogaryovo residence outside Moscow on Dec. 9. Alexsey Druginyn/RIA Novosti/Reuters
Vladimir Putin seems always to have been demonstrative toward dogs. Here, he hugs a Hungarian Puli dog owned by Hungarian Prime Minister Ferenc Gyurcsany (background) and his wife Klara Dobrev (out of camera range) as they stand on the balcony of the prime minister's residence in Budapest, Hungary, in 2006. Miklos Der/AFP/Getty Images/Newscom/FILE
Dog and diplomacy: Vladimir Putin pets his dog Kuni while Germany’s federal chancellor, Angela Merkel, looks on as they address journalists after their working meeting at the Bocharov Ruchei residence in Sochi, Russia, in 2007. Axel Schmidt/AFP/Newscom/FILE
Vladimir Putin embraces hero-dog Tonik, a member of the Emergency Situations Ministry in Novo-Ogarevo, Russia, in 2008. Tonik helped Russian emergency workers save victims of China's devastating earthquake. Alexander Grek/AFP/Newscom
Former President George H.W. Bush watches Vladimir Putin make a fuss over a dog at the Bush family estate at Walker's Point, Kennebunkport, Maine, in 2007. Mikhail Klimentyev/ITAR-TASS/Newscom
Before his late-night Christmas Eve Mass in St. Peter's Basilica, Pope Francis called a group of mostly Christian refugees, telling them, 'You're like Jesus on this night,' forced to flee because there was no place for them.
ByNicole Winfield, Associated Press
Pope Francis celebrated Christmas Eve with a late-night Mass Wednesday in St. Peter's Basilica and a phone call to some Iraqi refugees forced to flee their homes by Muslim militants.