Presidential Pet Tradition Revived

Biden is the first president to own a dog adopted from a shelter.

The Biden family’s dogs Champ and Major have restarted the once-longstanding tradition of presidents owning pets in the White House. Donald Trump broke the tradition that has been upheld since George Washington was in office, but now Biden’s German Shepherds are ready to bring it back. The only two other presidents that did not own pets during their presidency were Andrew Johnson and James K. Polk. 

Presidents have owned many different species of pets, ranging from exotic animals to common house pets. Many of these exotic animals were gifts from foreign countries as signs of friendship. John Quincy Adams is rumored to have owned an alligator who lived in the East Room of the White House. Other Presidents have owned opossums, mockingbirds, lizards, bear cubs, and squirrels. 

This tradition of keeping pets in the White House is a way for presidents to show a more relatable and softer side to the public. The pets often become celebrities and are part of a president’s public image. Warren Harding’s dog named Laddie Boy was one of the first presidential pets to become famous. He had his own seat for Cabinet meetings in the White House and received regular newspaper coverage.

Keeping pets in the White House also makes the building seem much more homely. It takes away from the strict and rigid feel that comes with a politically charged place of interest.

They help create an atmosphere of the White House as a family, a lived-in place and not just a stiff museum,” Ed Lengel, White House historian, said in a CNN interview.

Although former president Donald Trump did not own any pets during his time in office, former vice president Mike Pence and his family own many, including cats and a rabbit. 

Biden’s dog Major is the first dog in the White House to be adopted from a shelter. He was adopted from the Delaware Humane Association, who threw him an “Indoguration Party” to celebrate his move-in to the White House. 

On November 1st, Biden tweeted a video of Trump denouncing dogs being kept at the White House.

“How would I look walking a dog on the White House lawn… I don’t feel good,” Trump said in the video.

The video was accompanied by a declaration from Biden stating “Let’s put dogs back in the White House.”

Many Dunbar students are glad this wholesome and valuable tradition is being revived.

“In my opinion, Biden’s dogs make him more approachable and help him be more relatable to the public,” senior Ben Chen said.