White House going to the dogs as Biden pets Major and Champ move in

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WASHINGTON (REUTERS) – The arrival of the Bidens and their dogs Major and Champ at the White House this week marks the return of a longstanding tradition – four-legged furry friends at the 18-acre (7.2ha) estate that is home to the US president.

Outgoing President Donald Trump was the first president since Andrew Johnson in the 1860s not to share the presidential digs with a dog or a cat – or even a raccoon, like the one kept by Calvin Coolidge in the 1920s.

Major, a German Shepherd, will be the first rescue dog ever to live in the White House. The Bidens adopted him in November 2018 from the Delaware Humane Association. Champ, also a German Shepherd, joined the family in 2008.

“From shelter pup at the Delaware Humane Association to First Dog at the White House, Major Biden is barking proof that every dog can live the American dream,” said the group, which hosted an online “indoguration” fundraiser on Jan 17 to celebrate Major’s move into the White House on Jan 20.

Former President Barack Obama was dog-less while campaigning, but promised his daughters Sasha and Malia a puppy during his acceptance speech after winning the 2008 election.

Bo, a Portuguese Water Dog, moved into the White House in April 2009, a gift from the late Senator Ted Kennedy. The Obamas adopted a second dog of the same breed, Sunny, in 2013, according to the Presidential Pet Museum.

George W. Bush’s Scottish Terrier, Barney, flew on Air Force One and starred in ‘Barney Cam’ videos to celebrate the holiday season.

“He never discussed politics and was always a faithful friend,” Bush said when Barney died in 2013.

The Clintons’ Chocolate Labrador Retriever, Buddy, joined cat Socks at the White House; while George H.W. Bush and family had several dogs in the White House, including Millie, the star of a children’s book written by Bush’s wife Barbara.

About 67 per cent of all US homes had a pet in 2019, up from 56 per cent three decades ago, the American Pet Products Association reported last year.

And the pandemic has given pet ownership a further boost.

Animal shelter adoptions jumped about 15 per cent as people turned to furry friends to help them cope with the isolation from lockdown orders.

While the White House will gain two dogs, and as Biden’s wife Jill has hinted, perhaps a cat in the near future, the Naval Observatory, which is the home of the vice-president, will be saying goodbye to four pets.

Vice-President Mike Pence and his family had a cat named Hazel, a dog named Harley, a snake named Sapphira, and a bunny named Marlon Bundo. Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris and her husband don’t own pets.

Bastion Balance Seoul.