After four years of the White House being deprived of any furry friends, President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden have brought back the beloved title of “First Pup(s).” Major, one of the Bidens’ two german shepherds, is the first shelter dog to be “first pup.”
President Biden first discovered Major in 2018 after seeing a Facebook post from the Delaware Humane Association (DHA) advertising a litter of six german shepherds. According to Patrick Carroll, the DHA’s executive director, the puppies had been exposed to toxins and were in critical condition. The Bidens decided to foster Major in March of that year to provide a companion for their older dog, Champ, who they got from a breeder in 2008.
In November 2018, eight months after bringing Major home to foster, the Bidens officially adopted the pup. The DHA shared the following image on Facebook to celebrate, saying that it was “Major’s lucky day.”
This past Christmas, Major and Champ were featured in an adorable holiday video, and they’ve gained some fans. Now, it’s safe to say that Major has made the ultimate upgrade, from dog pound to White House. On Sunday, Jan,. 17, there was a virtual “Indoguration” ceremony to honor Major’s move to Washington and to promote the adoption of shelter animals. The ceremony featured a performance by Josh Groban, raising over $200,000 for the DHA, an enormous amount considering the shelter usually doesn’t receive many donations in the month of January.
In a joint interview with PEOPLE, Biden revealed how the two dogs are adjusting to presidential life. He explains that they don’t have many rules to follow because their training has made them very obedient. “Champ is old, he’s 14-years-old and he was extremely well-trained by the Canine Corps and he thinks he’s Secret Service,” Biden shares. Major, on the other hand, is less than two-years-old, but Biden explains that he still obeys the “only rule Jill has: Do not get up on the furniture.” Now, those are some good boys!
In a recent Tweet by President Biden’s granddaughter Naomi, the two presidential pups seem to be loving their time in the snow on the White House lawn. On Feb. 7, they had yet another claim to fame: a feature in Puppy Bowl XVII in Dr. Jill Biden’s PSA video about mask-wearing. These dogs are really living the life!
Although Major is the first shelter dog to live in the White House, President Lyndon B. Johnson had a rescue dog named Yuki, who his daughter found at a gas station. LBJ absolutely loved that white terrier, and the two were known to “sing” together.
Historically, dogs haven’t been the only pets to live in the White House. According to CNN, Thomas Jefferson had a mockingbird and bear cubs, James Buchanan received several elephants, and Martin Van Buren was given two tiger cubs (Congress forced him to give the tigers to a zoo). According to Ed Lengel, a former chief historian at the White House Historical Association, there’s even “circumstantial evidence” that President John Quincy Adams received an alligator, though it hasn’t been officially confirmed.
While the Bidens may not have any pets quite that unusual, they did share that Major and Champ might not be the only two animals living in the White House this presidential term. In late November this past year, the family revealed that they plan on adopting a cat. Watch out Major and Champ, a new pet is coming through! Luckily, fighting over space and territory shouldn’t be too much of an issue, considering that they’ll be living in the White House.
What are your thoughts on Major being the first shelter dog to be First Pup? Tweet us @VALLEYmag and let us know!