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Joe Biden’s German shepherd Major will make history as the first shelter dog to live at the White House

President-elect Joe Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, adopted Major from a shelter in 2018.

President-elect Joe Biden’s German Shepherd Major will be the first dog rescued from a shelter to live in the White House.
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After four years, President-elect Joe Biden is bringing pets back to the White House.

And one of Biden’s two German shepherds, Major, will be making presidential pet history as the first dog rescued from a shelter to live in the White House, according to The Washington Post.

Major was adopted by the Biden family from the Delaware Humane Association in November 2018, after being fostered first, according to the Post. He and six other puppies were first brought to the shelter after they were “exposed to something toxic” in their previous home.

The Biden family’s other German shepherd, Champ, was adopted by them in 2008 and lived at the vice presidential residence at the U.S. Naval Observatory while Biden served as vice president, according to People.

While Major is the first presidential dog to be rescued from a shelter, the first rescue dog at the White House belonged to Lyndon B. Johnson, whose dog Yuki was found by his daughter behind a gas station in Texas, according to the Post.

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Build Bark Better. Happy #NationalDogDay

A post shared by Dr. Jill Biden (@drbiden) on

President Donald Trump was the first president since 1897 to not have a dog, according to The Guardian.

“I wouldn’t mind having one, honestly, but I don’t have any time,” Trump said at a rally in 2019, according to The Guardian. “How would I look walking a dog on the White House lawn?”

Biden occasionally featured his dogs in videos on social during the 2020 election, with the message, “Let’s put dogs back in the White House.”

While many U.S. presidents have had dogs as pets while living in the White House, some have had more unusual pets, as well. For example:

  • William McKinley (the last president before Trump to not have a dog) had a pet parrot named Washington Post who was able to whistle “Yankee Doodle,” according to BuzzFeed News.
  • Theodore Roosevelt had dozens of animals that included a one-legged rooster, guinea pigs, and kangaroo rats, according to The New York Times.
  • Calvin Coolidge was given a raccoon to serve at a Thanksgiving dinner in 1926, according to the Times. However, Coolidge pardoned the raccoon, then adopted it and named it Rebecca.