WASHINGTON – Dogs have officially returned to the White House.
The administration released photos of President Joe Biden’s German shepherds, 12-year-old Champ and 2-year-old Major, on the White House grounds.
Champ is enjoying his new dog bed by the fireplace in Washington, and Major is taking in the grass on the South Lawn that’s become his favorite running place for now, according to first lady Jill Biden’s spokesman Michael LaRosa.
Major, the first shelter dog to live in the White House, was adopted by the Bidens in 2018.
“Today is Major’s lucky day! Not only did Major find his forever home, but he got adopted by Vice President Joe Biden & Dr. Jill Biden!,” the Delaware Humane Association posted at the time on Facebook.
President Biden has had German shepherds before, telling reporters on a 2008 campaign plane trip: “I’ve always had a big dog my whole life since I was a kid, big German shepherds and Great Danes and Labs and golden retrievers.”
The presidential pooches mark another White House pivot now that Biden has moved in. Donald Trump was the first president in a century to not have a pet. He said it was because he didn’t have time.
“How would I look walking a dog on the White House lawn,” he asked a crowd in 2019, adding that he thought it would be phony to have a dog even though his political handlers had suggested it. “That’s not the relationship I have with my people.”
Trump, who often professed he didn’t receive positive or fair coverage in the media, may have missed out on an opportunity to gain positive publicity for his choice of a companion pet.
Presidential pets have become a source of media fascination and crucial to the public’s image of a leader in the 20th century. Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga., created ads to win over White voters in his bid for office earlier this month because of the effect they have on public perception, the New York Times reported.
Photos of the Obamas playing with their Portuguese Water dogs, Sunny and Bo, captured moments of joy that pets can add to one of the most difficult jobs in the world.
Dogs also have the ability to make leaders and their families seem more relatable.
In 2015, Michelle Obama shared with a group of visiting children that Sunny had a “naughty” habit of sneaking off to poop in the other end of the White House.
After George H.W. Bush died in 2018, his yellow lab Sully was still by his side as the former president lay in state in the Capitol Rotunda. Bush’s service dog, who he had grown very close to in the last few months of his life, seemed to grieve as much as the people paying their respects.
Major is a shelter dog, which beefed up Biden’s likability in some online circles that praised the president for choosing to adopt a pet instead of purchasing a designer breed.
In addition to making history with Major’s presence in the White House, the first family will welcome a cat soon, Jill Biden said.
Several of the most recent presidents brought cats to the White House. Bill Clinton’s tuxedo cat, Socks, was among the most famous with a dedicated Wikipedia page marking his life’s journey.
The first lady’s office didn’t confirm if their new feline pal will be adopted or bought from a breeder.