The 2020 presidential election is bringing a slew of firsts into the White House: the first woman vice president, as well as the first Black woman and person of South Asian heritage to hold the position. The first first lady to continue working a full-time job. The first Jewish spouse of either a president or vice president.
But President-elect Joe Biden is bringing yet another first this January: The first-ever shelter dog will now reside in the White House.
The incoming president and first lady Jill Biden will bring two dogs with them, both German shepherds: Champ, who came from a breeder in 2008, and Major, whom the couple adopted from the Delaware Humane Association in 2018.
Major came to the Delaware Humane Association as a puppy, along with his five siblings, after the litter was exposed to toxins and surrendered to the shelter. All six underwent lifesaving medical care at a local veterinary emergency center and were all later adopted.
President-elect Biden first heard about Major after his daughter, Ashley Biden, sent him a Facebook post from the shelter saying they were looking for homes for the puppies, according to the News Journal. Biden then called the shelter and wound up fostering and eventually adopting Major.
While Major will be the first shelter dog in the White House, he technically will not be the first rescue dog. That title belongs to Yuki, a stray mutt President Lyndon B. Johnson adopted after his daughter found him wandering at a Texas gas station on Thanksgiving Day 1966.
Champ and Major will bring back a long tradition of dogs in the White House.
President Donald Trump has no dogs, the first president without one since William McKinley, who served from 1897 until his assassination in 1901. (McKinley did, however, have some rather interesting pets: roosters, cats, and a parrot named Washington Post who notably could whistle "Yankee Doodle.")
In 2019, according to the Washington Post (the newspaper, not the parrot), Trump explained why he did not have a dog, saying he thought it would seem "phony" and that he was too busy.
“I wouldn’t mind having one, honestly, but I don’t have any time," he said at the time. "How would I look walking a dog on the White House lawn?"
Biden included his dogs in his campaign for the presidency, playing off many of his supporters' excitement about bringing back the beloved White House tradition.
"Let’s put dogs back in the White House," Biden tweeted on Nov. 1.
Correction: The name of the Delaware Humane Association was misstated in an earlier version of this post.