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September 22, 2021

Another tail-wagging, historic first in Biden's White House

SALT LAKE CITY — If there’s one thing Americans love, it’s an uplifting dog story. Here’s how one dog started off in a Delaware shelter and is now on his way to make White House history.

In March 2018, President-elect Joe Biden’s daughter, Ashley Biden, shared a Facebook post from the Delaware Humane Association about a litter of German shepherd puppies in need of foster homes. The puppies were brought to the shelter needing “life-saving medical care” after exposure to toxic materials in their original home, according to USA Today.

After eight months of fostering Major with their other German shepherd, Champ, the Bidens made him a permanent member of the family and he is now on his way to becoming the first shelter dog to live in the White House.

Major and Champ (who was adopted from a breeder in 2008), will bring back the tradition of presidential dogs. President Donald Trump was the first president in more than a century not to have a pet of any kind. William McKinley, who served from 1897 until his assassination in 1901, did not have a dog, however, he had roosters, two kittens and a parrot named Washington Post. James K. Polk was the last president not to have any pets in the White House when he served in 1845-1849.

Champ visited the White House when Biden served as vice president with President Barack Obama, who had two Portuguese water dogs, Bo and Sunny.

Biden tweeted on Nov. 1, “Let’s put dogs back in the White House.”

Major joins the list of historic firsts that come with the 2020 presidential election. Kamala Harris will be the first woman vice president, along with the first Black woman and person of south Asian heritage as VP. First Lady Dr. Jill Biden plans to continue working as English professor at Northern Virginia Community College, making her the only first lady to have a paid job outside of the White House and have a doctorate degree. And Harris’ husband Doug Emhoff will be the first “second gentleman” and Jewish spouse of either a president or vice president.

However, it is important to note that Major is the first shelter dog to live in the White House, not the first rescue dog. That title belongs to Lyndon B. Johnson’s dog Yuki who was a mixed breed found by Johnson’s daughter, Luci Nugent. Yuki was found at a Texas gas station on Thanksgiving Day in 1966 and joined Johnson’s two other dogs, Blanco and J. Edgar. Johnson had five dogs during his presidency.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his eight dogs hold the record for most dogs in the White House.

While 30 of the 45 presidents have owned dogs, other presidential pets include John Quincy Adam’s bathtub alligator, Martin Van Buren’s two tiger cubs and Calvin Coolidge’s raccoon named Rebecca.

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