One relatively inane criticism leveled at Trump during his presidency was his lack of a four-legged companion. The Trump family was the first family in the White House to not have a dog since Benjamin Harrison’s presidency in 1897. While this critique falls relatively low to the other criticisms of the Trump administration, many in the country are nonetheless happy to see Biden’s administration return dogs to the White House.
The dogs in question are two German Shepherds, Champ and Major. Champ, age 12, was adopted after the 2008 election and is already somewhat familiar with the White House. However, Major, age 2, has captured the hearts of America as not only an adorable little good boy who is so good, but as the first dog adopted from a shelter to live in the White House.
Under the current administration, Trump has been pretty upfront about his lack of interest in dogs, stating that he would not bring one into the White House during his term because it would feel “a little phony” to him. He also enjoys comparing his opponents to the negative stereotype of dogs, tweeting that Steve Bannon was “dumped like a dog by almost everyone” and that Mitt Romney “choked like a dog” in losing the presidential race in 2012.
As a political figure, Trump is a bit of an anomaly in his disdain for dogs. Many world leaders, including UK prime minister Boris Johnson, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau and French president Emmanuel Macron have publicly advertised and celebrated their furry companions. Russian president Vladimir Putin in particular is well-known for his love of animals and even has an entire Wikipedia page about his various dogs and their political exploits (the least of which is “accidentally” scaring the crap of German chancellor Angela Merkel).
Dogs have actually played a relatively large role in Biden’s campaign strategy throughout this last year. Biden’s social media has posted photos of him adopting Major with captions pointing out Trump’s conspicuous lack of furry friend and the slogan, “It’s time we put a pet back in the White House.” The “Team Joe” account has tweeted videos featuring dogs decked out in Biden-Harris gear, and there is even a website dedicated to targeting voters based on their affinity for dogs.
While it is unclear exactly how much these sentiments helped the Biden campaign, one thing is certain: Biden’s dogs will be living in the White House. While Champ is already familiar with the grounds from the eight years of Obama’s presidency, Major is new to all this pomp and circumstance. Imagine, the highest dog office in the land, first dog, occupied by one that was living in a shelter a little over a year ago!
Of course, the presence or absence of a family dog has no real effect on a president’s leadership ability or policies (or at least, no effect has yet been proven). However, having a dog certainly doesn’t hurt. As former President Harry Truman once said, “If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog.”
After a truly hectic and taxing election cycle (and presidency), it is nice to simply appreciate the wholly apolitical story of a dog moving from a shelter to the White House.
This will, of course, not distract from the reality of a fractured country, the oldest president ever to hold office in the United States or criticism of the new administration’s policies moving forward, but it is nice to take a minute from contemplating this country’s inevitable descent into fascist dictatorship to smile at the rags-to-riches reality of this particular good boy.