What’s the Deal With All The Joe Biden Dog Drama?

Joe Biden in the Oval Office with his dogs
Official White House photo by Adam Schultz

Like Lena Dunham and Meghan Markle before him, Joe Biden has gotten wrapped up in some dog-related drama. His two pups were initially greeted with widespread enthusiasm. Perhaps because they arrived on the heels of the first presidential term without a White House canine in 120 years (“Feels a little phony to me, “ Donald Trump said of following tradition in 2019). Biden’s two German Shepherds—the White House’s first rescue dogs—even became celebrities of sorts, much in the way of Barack and Michelle Obama’s Portuguese Water Dogs, Sunny and Bo.

But less than two months into Biden’s presidency, news broke that Champ and Major’s time in the spotlight may have already come to an end. The pair has been banished to the doghouse, aka Delaware.

“On Monday, the first family's younger dog, Major, was surprised by an unfamiliar person and reacted in a way that resulted in a minor injury to the individual, which was handled by the White House medical unit,” press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday. In other words: The three-year-old pup bit someone, whom a Secret Service official told CNN was a Secret Service agent.

The official was just one of CNN’s anonymous dog sources. Major, apparently, “has been known to display agitated behavior on multiple occasions, including jumping, barking, and ‘charging’ at staff and security, according to the people CNN spoke with about the dog's demeanor at the White House,” the network posted. “The older of Biden's German Shepherds, Champ, is approximately 13 and has slowed down physically due to his advanced age.” (Which is why Biden adopted Major, at the advice of a vet.)

So, just how seriously has Major been misbehaving? According to Psaki, not much at all. In fact, Champ and Major are set to return to the White House “soon.” Still, the incident was significant enough for the Rupert Murdoch-owned New York Post to ask Psaki if Major will be euthanized. “Well, certainly, Major Biden is a member of the family, so I can assure you that [he won’t],” she replied.

The Bidens are well aware that Major and Champ are still adjusting to presidential life. “I've been getting obsessed with getting our dogs settled because we have an old dog and we have a very young dog," First Lady Jill Biden told Kelly Clarkson last month. “They have to take the elevator, they're not used to that, and they have to go out on the South Lawn with lots of people watching them. So that's what I've been obsessed with, getting everybody settled and calm." At that point, the first lady was already having trouble keeping them off the furniture: “They run all over.”

Major’s troublemaker status has actually been hiding in plain sight. “Little pup dropped a ball in front of me,” Biden explained of his recent foot injury, which happened after a shower and necessitated wearing a corrective boot. “And I'm walking through this little alleyway to get to the bedroom, and I grabbed the ball like this and he ran. And 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.”