The Bidens have paid tribute to their cherished German shepherd Champ, a “sweet, good boy” who had been with them for 13 years through joyful times and their most grief-stricken days.
The older of the US first family’s two German shepherds died “peacefully” at their home in Delaware after declining health in recent months, related to old age.
Champ had been with the Bidens since Joe Biden was elected vice-president in 2008 when he chose the puppy from a breeder’s litter – a promise from wife Jill, who had said he could get a dog if Barack Obama and Mr Biden won the election.
The dog moved back into the White House after Mr Biden was elected president in 2020, along with a more recent addition to the family, a rescue German shepherd named Major, who was adopted in 2018.
Their arrival heralded the return of pets to the White House after a hiatus during Donald Trump’s presidency.
The dog’s name, Champ, was the nickname Joe’s father had called his son.
The President and Dr Biden announced the death of their beloved companion in a joint statement.
“He was our constant, cherished companion during the last 13 years and was adored by the entire Biden family,” they said.
“Even as Champ’s strength waned in his last months, when we came into a room, he would immediately pull himself up, his tail always wagging, and nuzzle us for an ear scratch or a belly rub.
“Wherever we were, he wanted to be, and everything was instantly better when he was next to us.
RIP to our sweet, good boy, Champ. We will miss you always. pic.twitter.com/63hXXp8W9P
— Jill Biden (@FLOTUS) June 19, 2021
“He loved nothing more than curling up at our feet in front of a fire at the end of the day, joining us as a comforting presence in meetings, or sunning himself in the White House garden.
“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. We love our sweet, good boy and will miss him always.”
The Bidens are spending the weekend at their home in Wilmington, Delaware.
Champ’s death leaves the Bidens with their younger German shepherd, Major, whom the family adopted from the Delaware Humane Society in 2018.
The Bidens could occasionally be seen walking their two dogs on the White House South Lawn. The dogs would also sometimes join the President on trips to Camp David or visits home to Delaware.
Major has previously drawn headlines for bad behaviour. He caused Mr Biden to suffer a foot injury in November, after the then president-elect tripped over the younger dog while they were playing.
Major and Champ were taken home to Delaware at one point, and Major had further training after the younger dog was involved in two biting incidents at the White House. There was also concern after an unknown dog apparently pooed in a White House hallway.
Champ, who showed his age in recent months with his greying fur and slower gait, was often a more tranquil presence.
The Bidens are expected to take a cat to the White House to join the family soon.