Commander in, Major out: White House pet shakeup after biting incidents | Joe Biden

President Joe Biden on Monday introduced the newest member of his family, a purebred German shepherd puppy named Commander, while the first lady’s office said the cat she promised more than a year ago to bring to the White House would finally join them in January. But the news was […]

President Joe Biden on Monday introduced the newest member of his family, a purebred German shepherd puppy named Commander, while the first lady’s office said the cat she promised more than a year ago to bring to the White House would finally join them in January.

But the news was not so good for another member of the Biden animal family. The family decided it was best for their other German shepherd, Major, to live in a quieter environment with friends after some biting incidents.

Biden shared a photo on his official Twitter account of the three-month-old male puppy with a caption that said: “Welcome to the White House, Commander.” He also released a brief video of him tossing a ball to Commander and walking the leashed dog into the White House.

Commander was born on 1 September and arrived at the White House on Monday afternoon, a gift from the president’s brother James Biden and sister-in-law Sara Biden, according to Michael LaRosa, a spokesperson for the first lady, Jill Biden.

Champ, right, and Major.
Champ, right, and Major. Photograph: Mandel Ngan/AP

His name appears to be a play on Biden’s status as commander-in-chief of the US armed forces.

The first lady said shortly after Biden won the November 2020 presidential election that they would be getting a cat. LaRosa said the feline would join the family in January.

The Bidens had two other German shepherds – Champ and Major – with them at the White House before Commander.

But Major, a three-year-old rescue dog, ended up in the proverbial dog house following two biting incidents in the months after his arrival last January. He was sent home to Delaware for training before he was returned to the White House. White House officials had explained Major’s aggressive behaviour by saying he was still getting used to his new surroundings.

But he was sent away again. Now, his permanent exile from the executive mansion appears official.

“After consulting with dog trainers, animal behaviourists, and veterinarians, the first family has decided to follow the experts’ collective recommendation that it would be safest for Major to live in a quieter environment with family friends,” LaRosa said in an emailed statement. “This is not in reaction to any new or specific incident, but rather a decision reached after several months of deliberation as a family and discussions with experts.”

Champ died in June at the age of 13.

CNN first reported Commander’s arrival after he was seen scampering around the White House south lawn on Monday.

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