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US President Biden bids adieu to Champ

The German shepherd was adopted after Biden was elected as vice president in 2008

Champ (R) and Major lounging on the south lawn of the White House in March.
Champ (R) and Major lounging on the south lawn of the White House in March. (AP)

After a 13 year companionship, US President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, announced the passing away of their German shepherd, Champ. Biden said that Champ died "peacefully at home". He was the older of the family’s two dogs, the other being Major, another German shepherd.

"Our hearts are heavy today as we let you all know that our beloved German Shepherd, Champ, passed away peacefully at home. He was our constant, cherished companion during the last 13 years and was adored by the entire Biden family," the Bidens said in a statement posted to the president’s official Twitter account.

The Bidens got Champ from a breeder after Biden was elected vice president in 2008. Champ was a fixture at both the vice president’s residence at the Naval Observatory and now the White House. In their statement, the Bidens said that when Champ was young, “he was happiest chasing golf balls on the front lawn of the Naval Observatory,” and that more recently he enjoyed “joining us as a comforting presence in meetings or sunning himself in the White House garden.”

“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,” the Bidens said. Champ's passing leaves the Bidens with their younger German Shepherd, Major, whom the family adopted from the Delaware Humane Society in 2018. Major's the first rescue dog to live in the White House.

Champ's health had deteriorated in the last few months, but "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. Wherever we were, he wanted to be, and everything was instantly better when he was next to us," the Bidens recalled.

The Bidens could occasionally be seen walking their two dogs on the White House south lawn, and the dogs sometimes would join the president on trips to Camp David or visits home in Delaware.

Major has drawn headlines for his bad behavior in the past. Major caused Biden to suffer a foot injury in November, after the then-president-elect tripped over the younger dog while they were playing. Major and Champ were brought home to Delaware at one point, and Major went through training after the younger dog had two separate biting incidents at the White House. In contrast, Champ, who showed his age in recent months in his graying fur and slower gait, was often a more tranquil presence.

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.

The Bidens are expected to bring a cat to the White House to join the family soon.

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