Pets are Back: At the White House, Biden’s 2 Dogs Settle In
WASHINGTON: Following the arrival of President Joe Biden’s puppies, Champ and Major, the patter of paws is heard again in the White House. The two German shepherds are the first pets since the Obama presidency to live in the executive mansion.
After Biden, the then president-elect, fractured his right foot while playing with the dog at their home in Wilmington, Delaware, Big burst onto the national scene late last year.
Major was endorsed by the Bidens in 2018 by the Delaware Humane Association. After the 2008 presidential election, which made Joe Biden Vice President, Champ joined the family.
On Sunday, following Biden’s inauguration last week, the dogs moved into the White House.
Before moving the dogs down from Delaware to Washington, the first family had to settle down, said Michael LaRosa, spokesman for First Lady Jill Biden. Champ loves the fireplace with his new dog bed, and Big likes to run around on the South Lawn.
As Biden signed an executive order repealing the previous administration’s ban on transgender people serving in the military, the dogs were heard barking outside near the Oval Office on Monday.
Last week, a virtual fundraiser was co-sponsored by the Delaware Humane Association to celebrate Major’s journey from shelter pup to first puppy. They raised more than $200,000.
The Bidens promised to bring the dogs to the White House with them. They are hoping to add a cat, but on Monday there was no word on the arrival of the feline.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki estimated, when answering questions from members of the public on camera, that when it arrives, the cat would dominate the internet.
A self-described germaphobe, Donald Trump, Biden’s predecessor, does not own any pets and had none with him at the White House.
Much as they do for regular people, pets owned by the world’s most influential people provide warmth, entertainment, occasional drama and generally good PR for their owners.
Throughout the decades, pets have played an important role in the White House, not only by providing the presidents and their families with companionship, but also by humanizing and softening their political pictures, said Jennifer Pickens, author of a White House pet book.
Pets also act as White House ambassadors, she said. Pickens added that she hoped that the decision of the Bidens to introduce a rescue dog to the White House would allow others to adopt it.
President Theodore Roosevelt had Skip, who is described as a short-legged Black and Tan mongrel terrier brought home from a Colorado bear hunt by the White House Historical Association. Laddie Boy had Warren G. Harding, who sat at meetings and had a cabinet chair of his own. It was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt who had his beloved Fala terrier. Fala slept in a special chair at the foot of the president’s bed in the evening.
On The Simpsons, George H.W. Bush’s English springer spaniel Millie was featured more recently and starred in a bestseller, Millies Book: As Barbara Bush Dictated. With a children’s book about family dog Buddy and cat Socks: Dear Socks, Dear Buddy: Kids Letters to The First Pets, Hillary Clinton followed Bush’s lead.
Barack Obama told his daughters when he proclaimed victory in the 2008 presidential race: “You earned the new puppy that’s coming to the White House with us.” Several months later, Bo, a gift from Sen. Ted Kennedy, joined the family. Some years later, Sunny, a fellow Portuguese water dog, came.
Calvin Coolidge and first lady Grace Coolidges, raccoon Rebecca, were among the odd White House pets. According to the White House Historical Association, she was offered to the Coolidge family by a donor who requested that the raccoon be served for Thanksgiving dinner. But instead, at the White House Easter Egg Roll, she got an embroidered collar under the title White House Raccoon and entertained children.
The first children had several notable pets, including Amy Carter’s Siamese cat, Misty Malarky Ying Yang, and Caroline Kennedy’s pony Macaroni. There was a veritable menagerie in the Kennedy family, complete with dogs, cats, birds, hamsters and a rabbit called Zsa Zsa.
President Harry Truman famously said that if you want a friend in Washington, get a puppy, and Truman’s suggestion was followed by several successors. There’s nothing like the unconditional love of a dog to help you get through the tough spots,” the first President Bush once said.”