With Joe Biden most likely becoming the next president, our country remains split on the best path forward. But what almost everyone can agree on is it’s good to have dogs back in the White House, with one being the first shelter dog to reside there. (President Lyndon B. Johnson owned the White House’s first rescue dog, a stray his daughter found at a gas station.)
Named Major, the German Shepherd was adopted by the Bidens from the Delaware Humane Association in 2018. The family visited the shelter on Easter after hearing about a litter of puppies who arrived there after being exposed to toxics in their home.
“The puppies were surrendered to DHA due to financial constraints,” Cory Topel, the marketing manager of DHA, told This Dog’s Life. “By working with a local veterinary emergency center, DHA was able to provide Major and his siblings with lifesaving medical care.”
Now 2 years old, Major, along with Biden’s other GS, 12-year-old Champ, will become part of a long-standing tradition at the White House of having a pet. In terms of dogs, Roosevelt had Fala (who was immortalized in a statue), Reagan had Lucky, Bush had Millie, Clinton had Buddy and Obama had Bo. There’s even a book about the presidential pups, First Dogs, American Presidents and Their Best Friends. President Trump broke the more than century-long tradition when he took over, choosing not to have any sort of furry campaign at the White House.
“Some Americans celebrate #NationalCatDay, some celebrate #NationalDogDay,” he tweeted. “President Trump celebrates neither. It says a lot. It’s time we put a pet back in the White House.”
Others agreed. In September, a group called Dog Lovers for Joe released a video featuring photos of both Republican and Democratic presidents hugging their dogs, with the message “choose your humans wisely.”
As president of the United States, the job is extremely stressful – and having a dog by your side can help alleviate some of the pressure. Indeed, research has shown that dogs can help us relax, lower our blood pressure, make us feel more confident and even increase our dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin levels. And in work settings, they can even encourage collaboration and improve social interactions – something definitely needed in politics.
With Major being the first shelter dog to reside at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, he has brought the focus on adoption and the opportunity of giving an animal a second chance.
“Major’s story showcases the power of possibility: a shelter dog who was once fighting for his life will be living in the White House in a few short months,” Topel of DHA told us. “Not every shelter animal shares Major’s fortune, however. We sincerely hope his story will highlight the importance of animal adoption and rescue shelters.”
You can follow Major and Champ’s antics on their Instagram account, Firstdogsusa.