Champ and Major facts for kids
Quick facts for kidsChamp
Champ in 2021
Spring City, Pennsylvania, United States
|Died||June 19, 2021
|Known for||United States presidential and vice presidential pet|
|Term||January 20, 2021 – June 19, 2021|
|Appearance||Tan with black saddle|
Major in 2021
|Born||January 2018 (age 3)
Delaware, United States
|Known for||United States presidential pet|
|Term||January 20, 2021 – Present|
|Appearance||Black with pale tan markings|
U.S. president Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden brought their German Shepherds Champ (October 2008 – June 19, 2021) and Major (born January 2018) into the White House in 2021. Champ was the older of the dogs; born in 2008, he came with the Bidens to Washington, D.C., when they occupied Number One Observatory Circle, the vice-presidential residence, from January 2009 to January 2017. After joining the Bidens in the White House, Champ died in June 2021. Champ’s tenure as first dog of the White House is the shortest on record. Major, who was born in 2018, is the first shelter dog to have lived in the White House. Previously, President John F. Kennedy and his wife Jackie had also owned two German Shepherd dogs.
Joe Biden promised his wife he would purchase a dog after the 2008 presidential election should Barack Obama win the race. Jill Biden taped different pictures of dogs on seats of Biden's campaign plane for him to see. He purchased the dog as a puppy from a breeder in Pennsylvania, and it was named Champ (born October 2008) by his granddaughters. Champ's name reminded Biden of advice given to him by his father, who said, "Any time you get knocked down, champ, get up!" Biden has an affinity for German shepherds, having trained them in the past. Biden would give children small plush toys of Champ during his vice presidency.
On June 19, 2021, the White House announced that Champ had died. "In our most joyful moments and in our most grief-stricken days, he was there with us, sensitive to our every unspoken feeling and emotion," the statement read. "We love our sweet, good boy and will miss him always." According to the White House statement, Champ "passed away peacefully at home."
Major (born January 2018) was a rescue from a litter that had been exposed to "something toxic" in their home, and their owner was unable to afford the expense of veterinary care for them. He was fostered by the Bidens earlier that year from the Delaware Humane Association's shelter and has been with them since late 2018. On the day Joe Biden adopted the dog from the shelter, he stayed "telling stories and taking selfies with staffers" for over an hour. The origin of Major's name is not publicly known, but Beau Biden, Joe Biden's son with his first wife, Neilia Hunter Biden, was a major in the Delaware National Guard.
On November 28, 2020, then-President-elect Biden fractured his foot while playing with Major. Biden said in an interview that Major was waiting to play after the president-elect emerged from a shower: "I'm joking, running after him and grab his tail. And what happened was that he slid on a throw rug. And I tripped on the rug he slid on."
On March 8, 2021, Champ and Major were temporarily moved to live with a family friend in Delaware after a minor incident where Major nipped a security guard. Major has been known for displaying agitated behavior on multiple occasions, in the past including "jumping, barking, and charging" at staff and security. Joe Biden noted in an interview that the bite did not penetrate the skin. They returned to the White House on March 24 after Major received some training, including training on how to live with a future cat that the Bidens are adopting in the White House. On March 30, Major was involved in a second biting incident at the White House, having bitten a National Park Service employee during a walk.
In July 2020, Biden's granddaughter, Naomi, posted a tweet showcasing Champ and Major fighting over a Donald Trump chew toy. Though the tweet was subsequently deleted, the photo resurfaced on social media before the 2020 United States presidential election.
Champ and Major both appeared in advertisements for Biden in his 2020 presidential campaign against President Donald Trump who had no pets in the White House. During the campaign Biden tweeted that "Some Americans celebrate #NationalCatDay, some celebrate #NationalDogDay...President Trump celebrates neither. It says a lot. It's time we put a pet back in the White House."
Three days before the inauguration of Joe Biden, the Delaware Humane Association held an "indoguration" for Major. More than 7,400 people attended via Zoom and it featured a performance by Josh Groban. The event also raised $200,000 in donations for the association.
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