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If you never quite got over your dismay at Donald Trump's lack of a presidential pet—he's one of just four commanders-in-chief who neglected to bring a furry friend with them to the Oval Office, and the first since James K. Polk in the mid-1800s—you can finally breathe a sigh of relief. Two very good boys moved into the White House with President Joe Biden (opens in new tab) after his and Vice President Kamala Harris' inauguration on Jan. 20 (opens in new tab). Biden and his wife, Dr. Jill (opens in new tab), are the humans of Major and Champ Biden, two German shepherds aged 2 and 12, respectively. The First Family seems to take their role as pet-owners very seriously, and were rewarded for their high canine approval ratings with the launch of the "Dog Lovers for Joe (opens in new tab)" movement ahead of the election.
Major and Champ are in great company as First Pets: They're joining an exclusive club that includes, among many other past pets-in-chief, the Obamas' two Portuguese Water Dogs, Sunny and Bo; JFK's hamsters, cat, canary, dogs, ponies, and parakeets; and, of course, Calvin Coolidge's shockingly well-trained raccoon, Rebecca.
The four-legged icons have also already been immortalized in book form, even before strutting their stuff as First Pets. On Jan. 19, the day before they took up residence in the East Wing, YA writer Joy McCullough and illustrator Sheyda Abvabi Best published a children's book called Champ and Major: First Dogs (opens in new tab), which follows Champ and Major on their journey to the White House.
Here's everything you need to know about Major and Champ Biden now that they've been sworn into office (not really, but can you imagine?!).
The Bidens got Champ from a Pennsylvania breeder in late 2008, after Jill promised her husband that they could welcome a dog into the family after that year's election was over, Politico (opens in new tab) reported at the time. The family announced on Christmas Day that they had named the puppy Champ, after the nickname Biden's father often used to motivate him to get back up after being knocked down. They reportedly chose a German shepherd because Biden had owned, trained, and showed them since he was a child.
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Champ already knows his way around Washington, D.C., after spending eight years living in the capital while Biden served as vice president. During that time, he made regular appearances with his humans at official events and may or may not have caused the Bidens to replace the carpeting (opens in new tab) in the vice-presidential residence with easier-to-clean hardwood floors. And in what may be the purest thing to ever happen in Washington, Biden made a habit of handing out miniature plush versions (opens in new tab) of Champ (!!!) to kids he met through his vice-presidential duties.
Champ isn't just a president's best friend—he's also Biden's fiercest protector and biggest supporter. "[He] thinks he's Secret Service, and he is," Biden said (opens in new tab) of his elder dog during a campaign stop in Iowa in 2019. Champ also appeared in a very convincing video (opens in new tab) a few days before the election in which he implored people to vote for his human, and you simply cannot convince me that it's not what clinched the win for Biden.
Champ's younger brother Major made history after the already groundbreaking inauguration (opens in new tab), as he became the first-ever shelter dog to live at the White House. The Bidens adopted Major in 2018 from the Delaware Humane Association. According to a post (opens in new tab) the shelter shared on Facebook at the time, the Bidens were fostering Major when they decided to fully adopt him instead.
"Major was 1 of 6 puppies who were brought to DHA after coming in contact with something toxic in their home," the shelter wrote in another 2018 post (opens in new tab). "Once we posted about them for your help, Joe Biden caught wind of them and reached out immediately. The rest is history!"
The younger Biden pup has remained a proud alumnus of the DHA, which hosted a fundraising "Indoguration" in his honor a few days before his dad was sworn in as POTUS. "From shelter pup at the Delaware Humane Association to First Dog at the White House, Major Biden is barking proof that every dog can live the American dream," the association wrote in its event announcement.
The livestreamed event raised an impressive $200,000 for the humane society on Jan. 17. It was emceed by Today show host Jill Martin, included interviews with several rescue cats campaigning to be the Bidens' next pet (Jill has previously said she'd like to add a feline friend to their family), and also featured a rousing rendition of "(How Much Is) That Doggie in the Window?" by none other than Josh Groban. Yes, really.
Major showed up in the Bidens' lives at the perfect time, right when they had begun looking to expand their family as a way to give Champ an energy boost. "My vet said, 'Your shepherd's 12 years old. He's getting slow. The best thing to keep him going is get another little puppy,'" Biden shared during that same 2019 Iowa campaign stop.
And though the Bidens have not shared where Major got his name, or if they even chose it themselves, NBC News (opens in new tab) notes that it likely holds sentimental value for the president-elect, whose late son Beau Biden was a major in the Delaware National Guard.
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Andrea Park is a Chicago-based writer and reporter with a near-encyclopedic knowledge of the extended Kardashian-Jenner kingdom, early 2000s rom-coms and celebrity book club selections. She graduated from the Columbia School of Journalism in 2017 and has also written for W, Brides, Glamour, Women's Health, People and more.
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