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Monday, June 17, 2024 | Back issues
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Biden’s Canine Plans Go to the Dogs After ‘Biting Incident’

President Joe Biden has sent his two dogs back to his family home in Wilmington, Delaware, after the younger of the two German Shepherds was involved in a "biting incident" with a White House security agent, U.S. media said Monday.

WASHINGTON (AFP) — He came into the White House tasked with bringing sanity and even a bit of fun, but less than two months later, the Bidens' dog Major is in disgrace after a "biting incident."

In a city famous for politicians snapping at each other, the German Shepherd is reported by CNN to have gone one further by actually using his teeth.

Unusually for Washington, his reported target was apolitical — not, for example, a visiting opposition Republican senator or even a member of the media.

The victim was said to be an unidentified security agent.

As a result, the hefty pet and his companion German Shepherd Champ have been banished from the "people's house" to the dog house at President Joe Biden's family home in Delaware, CNN reported.

The bone of contention wasn't just what an official — in classic Washington officialese — called a "biting incident."

Major, just 3 years old, was altogether too rambunctious for the White House.

This is a complex simultaneously serving as family residence, office complex, national security hub, nuclear bunker, and museum for countless art works and iconic artefacts from U.S. history.

And according to CNN's report, quoting two people familiar with the situation, Major proved agitated, jumping, barking and "charging" staff and security personnel.

FILE - This Nov. 16, 2018, photo, file provided by the Delaware Humane Association shows Joe Biden and his newly-adopted German shepherd Major, in Wilmington, Del. President-elect Biden will likely wear a walking boot for the next several weeks as he recovers from breaking his right foot while playing with his dog Major on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2020, his doctor said. (Stephanie Carter/Delaware Humane Association via AP)


It didn't have to be like this.

Major and Champ arrived at the White House with a mission to lighten the atmosphere and introduce some friendly fun.

Biden's predecessor Donald Trump was the first president in more than a century not to have a dog. "How would I look walking a dog on the White House lawn?" he scorned.

Being dog people was part of the image that Biden and his wife Jill successfully sold to voters last November: regular folk who could connect with a badly shaken country.

And if there'd been canine elections, the dog duo would have formed a ticket every bit as powerful as Biden and his vice president Kamala Harris.

Champ, about 13 years old, is the gentle, experienced veteran who was already at Biden's side when he was vice president under Barack Obama.

Major seems the perfect compliment: not just full of zest, but with the heartwarming back story of being a rescue shelter dog.

"They're good boys," said Biden, who at 78 is the oldest person ever elected U.S. president, during a walkabout with Jill and the dogs on the White House North Lawn in February.

"We asked the vet, 'What can we do to keep Champ going?'" Biden recounted. "He said: 'Get him a young dog.'"

"They are buddies," Jill Biden said.

Wag the dog

The presidency is said to be supremely lonely.

Perhaps that's why man's best friend has been such a constant presence in the Oval Office.

Virtually every president had at least one pooch. The Obamas kept two Portuguese water dogs.

Theodore Roosevelt brought an entire menagerie. There was a small bear named Jonathan Edwards, a lizard, guinea pigs, a badger, a blue macaw, a one-legged rooster, a hyena and a pony named Algonquin who even once rode the elevator.

So Trump's pet-free White House raised eyebrows.

The Republican not only didn't like the image of himself walking the dog but claimed he didn't have time. Twice impeached, Trump left office after a single term.

The last president to ban dogs faired even worse: William McKinley was assassinated in 1901.

The Bidens did their best.

Champ and Major were regular sights around the world's most famous house and were photographed lounging on the carpet in the Oval Office — the holy of holies in American politics.

"Not many people have Oval office walk-in privileges. Happy to report that these two are on the list," Biden joked on Instagram.

Now the first couple must contemplate life without their four-legged friends, while the dogs will be left pining for their masters.

"They like to be wherever we are," Jill Biden told “The Kelly Clarkson Show” last month.

by Sebastian Smith
© Agence France-Presse

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