Major Biden, a german shepherd like his big brother, Champ, was born in January 2018. Although the Bidens have never publicly explained the source of Major’s name, many assume the dog was named for President Biden’s deceased son, Beau, who earned the rank of major in the Delaware National Guard. Major and his five littermates were surrendered to the Delaware Humane Association after they came into contact with a toxic substance and their owners could not afford veterinary care.
To make sure that Major was a good match for the Biden family, they first fostered him for several months. When it was clear that Major was meant to be a part of their lives, the Bidens proceeded with the adoption and gave him a forever home.
The First Presidential Shelter Dog
Although Major is not the first rescue pet to grace the White House, he does own the distinction of being the first presidential shelter pet. Many hope that bringing Major to the White House will shine a light on the plight of the thousands of dogs waiting in shelters around the country for someone to bring them home.
Major, along with big brother Champ, has been a hit on social media, earning followers, fans, and likes on Instagram and Twitter. Although none of the accounts is officially endorsed by the Biden family, several unofficial accounts have sprung up, with photos and videos featuring these two very good boys.
The Indoguration, A New Tradition?
On January 17, 2021, the Delaware Humane Association hosted the Indoguration, a virtual event to celebrate and highlight the first ever shelter dog to become a White House pet. The celebration was a huge success, with over 7400 people attending via Zoom. The event raised over $200,00 to support the Association’s mission.
Champ in 2021.
In 2008, a frisky, three month-old german shepherd joined the Biden household and changed their lives forever. Biden granddaughters Finnegan and Maisy chose the name Champ in honor of one of their “Pop’s” favorite sayings, one he often heard from his own father: “Any time you get knocked down, champ, get back up!”
Why a german shepherd? Chalk it up to Biden’s deep love for the breed. “I’ve had german shepherds since I was a kid,” he explained. “And I’ve actually trained them and shown them in the past.” The Bidens purchased Champ from a breeder in Pennsylvania.
No Stranger to the Limelight
When it comes to life in the public eye, Champ is an old pro. As vice presidential pet, he lived eight years at Number One Observatory Circle, the official residence of the vice president, on the grounds of the U.S. Naval Observatory. According to the vice president, Champ always took his duties seriously. “He thinks he’s Secret Service,” Biden said, “because he is.”
To prepare for his role as vice presidential pet, the Bidens enrolled Champ (and later, his younger brother Major) at Delaware’s K-9 Camp Dog Obedience School. They knew Champ would need to be on his best behavior, even when confronted with unfamiliar visitors.
Don’t get the idea that Champ is all business, though. He has a “soft” side, too. As vice president, Biden often gave small plush toy versions of Champ to children, especially victims of floods and other natural disasters. Champ’s dad recognized that animals, especially dogs, have a unique way of offering comfort in times of crisis. We hope President Biden continues this wonderful tradition in his new role.