Major Biden, the first shelter adopted dog, who will occupy the White House.

After a four year hiatus, dogs will soon roam the White House grounds again. Major and Champ are the two dogs in the family of President-Elect Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden, the incoming First Lady. Major is not the first “rescue dog” who will occupy the White House, but he is the first shelter adopted dog who will do so.

Abraham Lincoln and Fido.

Abraham Lincoln adopted a skittish little dog in the mid-19th century, but did not bring him to Washington, D.C. when he was elected. Instead, he left Fido (yes, Fido) with friends, telling them that he was not allowed to be left tied out in the yard, he was not allowed to be scolded for muddy paws, he was to be allowed in the house when he wanted (by scratching at the door), and that if he requested them, he was to be fed scraps from the family’s dinner. Clearly, Lincoln was ahead of his time.

President Johnson and Yuki singing together in the Oval Office.

President Lyndon Johnson had the first rescue dog to live in the White House. According to the New York Times, “President Lyndon B. Johnson’s mixed-breed dog, Yuki, was found by his daughter at a Texas gas station.”

President George W. Bush and Laura Bush with Freddy, adopted from a local SPCA.

President George W. Bush adopted/rescued a dog after he left the White House. In 2016, he posted to Facebook that,

Laura W. Bush and I are thrilled to introduce the newest member of our family, Freddy Bush. We visited the SPCA of Texas… and came home with a puppy. We already love him, and even our cats Bob and Bernadette are finding Freddy’s charm futile to resist. If you could use a little extra joy in your life, consider adopting a pet from an animal shelter or rescue group.

Adoption day for Major at the Delaware Humane Association.

The Bidens adopted Major from a shelter in their home state of Delaware. According to The Bark,

Biden’s daughter, Ashley Biden, sent her father a Facebook post about a litter of German Shepherd puppies that were having some health issues and needed foster families.

The six puppies had been exposed to toxins and were hospitalized for treatment.

After fostering and then adopting him as a companion for Champ, they posted that,

We are so happy to welcome Major to the Biden family, and we are grateful to the Delaware Humane Association for their work in finding forever homes for Major and countless other animals.

Dr. Jill Biden with dogs Major and Champ.

As the Times notes, “Mr. Biden’s dog Major reflects a broader trend of Americans adopting pets from shelters and how they feel about animal rights.”


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