President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden announced Saturday that Champ, their 13-year-old German Shepherd, had died.
“Our hearts are heavy today as we let you all know that our beloved German Shepherd, Champ, passed away peacefully at home. He was our constant, cherished companion during the last 13 years and was adored by the entire Biden family,” they said in a statement.
When Biden won the 2020 election, it meant that the White House would become home to two first pets: Major, a young rescue dog, and Champ, who lived at One Observatory Circle in Washington DC with them during Barack Obama’s administration, when Biden was vice-president.
The Bidens said Champ had been a comfort to them even as his strength had waned in the last few months. “When we came into a room, he would immediately pull himself up, his tail always wagging, and nuzzle us for an ear scratch or a belly rub,” the statement continued. “Wherever we were, he wanted to be, and everything was instantly better when he was next to us.
“He loved nothing more than curling up at our feet in front of a fire at the end of the day, joining us as a comforting presence in meetings, or sunning himself in the White House garden.”
When Champ was younger, they said, he was “happiest chasing golf balls on the front lawn of the Naval Observatory or racing to catch our grandchildren as they ran around our backyard in Delaware.”
“In our most joyful moments and in our most grief-stricken days, he was there with us, sensitive to our every unspoken feeling and emotion. We love our sweet, good boy and will miss him always.”
Biden purchased Champ from a Pennsylvania breeder in 2008, when he was merely a three-month-old puppy. Jill Biden had promised Joe that they would get a dog following the 2008 election and, per Politico, “would tape pictures of different dogs on the back of the seat in front of Biden on his campaign plane”.
They adopted Major, also a German Shepherd, from the from the Delaware Humane Association (DHA) in November 2018, after fostering him for approximately eight months. The Biden’s dogs were temporarily sent home to Delaware following a “biting incident” involving Major, but did return to The White House, per Today.
Donald Trump was the first president in a century not to have a dog. At a 2019 rally, Trump said that the notion of getting a dog seemed “phony” to him.