By Valerie Volcovici and Nandita Bose
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden on Saturday announced the passing of their German shepherd Champ, who they called a “constant, cherished companion” for 13 years.
“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 said in a statement.
Champ was one of two German shepherds living at the White House with the president and first lady. Biden got Champ in 2008, the year he was elected vice president under President Barack Obama.
Champ lived alongside Major, who the Bidens adopted in November 2018 and became the first rescue dog to live in the White House. Major had to be briefly removed from the premises after two incidents of nipping staff on White House grounds.
Major returned to the White House in April after being sent to an off-site training so he could adjust to life in the White House.
The arrival of Champ and Major marked the return of pets to the White House after a four-year hiatus under former President Donald Trump, who was the first president since Andrew Johnson in the 1860s not to share the presidential digs with a dog or a cat.
Champ lived with the Bidens when the current president served as vice president and spent his days, “chasing golf balls on the front lawn of the Naval Observatory.”
“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,” the statement said.
The Bidens have also addressed the idea of getting a cat. “She is waiting in the wings,” Jill Biden said in April.
(Reporting by Valerie Volcovici; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Diane Craft)