The White House is going back to the dogs ― including a shelter dog.
After four years of President Donald Trump’s famously pet-free tenure, Joe Biden winning the 2020 presidential election means that the patter of furred feet will likely be heard inside the White House once more.
The Biden family has two German shepherds: Champ, purchased from a breeder in 2008, and Major, adopted from an animal shelter 10 years later.
When the Bidens got Champ, they were criticised for purchasing a puppy from a high-volume commercial breeder that some described as a puppy mill. The family took a different path the next time around and adopted Major from the Delaware Humane Association in 2018.
Major had been surrendered to the shelter along with his littermates, and the whole crew was in poor health. The Bidens first took in Major as a foster puppy and ultimately decided to adopt him permanently. (His siblings also all found homes.)
Since then, the pair has made regular appearances on social media, particularly in photos from Jill Biden.
Though Major has been described on social media and on some news sites as the “first rescue dog” in the White House, that isn’t accurate. Lyndon B. Johnson had a beloved dog named Yuki who was found by his daughter at a Texas gas station on Thanksgiving in 1966.
“LBJ’s favorite dog was a rescue named Yuki, a white mutt who had been abandoned by his owner in a gas station in LBJ’s hometown of Johnson City, Texas,” wrote Johnson’s grandson, Lyndon Nugent, according to the Presidential Pet Museum. “They shared a very significant bond that personified the American spirit: Only in America could a poor boy from Johnson City end up in the White House.”
And while decidedly not a dog, at least one other presidential pet had similarly scrappy roots. Socks, the famous black and white cat belonging to the Clinton family, was originally a stray who jumped into Chelsea Clinton’s arms in Arkansas.