Champ, the German Shepherd of the Bidens, has died

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Champ died at the Biden family’s home in Wilmington, Delaware, a White House official told CNN.

“Our hearts are heavy today as we inform you all that our beloved German Shepherd, Champ, has passed away peacefully at home,” President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden said in a statement. “He was our constant and cherished companion for the past 13 years and was adored by the entire Biden family.”

The Bidens continued, “He loved nothing more than curling up at our feet in front of a fire at the end of the day, joining us as a heartwarming presence in meetings or sunbathing in the garden. of the White House. In his youth he was happiest chasing golf balls on the Naval Observatory lawn or running to catch our grandchildren as they ran through our backyard in the Delaware.”

Champ had joined the Biden family during the presidential transition in December 2008, weeks after Biden became vice president-elect. Champ, the Bidens said on Saturday, had been with the family during their “happiest times” and “sorrowful days.”

In recent months, Champ’s health had declined, in large part due to his advanced age.

The German Shepherd was one month old when Biden picked him from a litter from a breeder in Spring City, Pa. The acquisition of Champ was a promise kept by Jill Biden, who said her husband could get a dog if he and Barack Obama won the presidential election.

During the 2008 vacation, Biden’s grandchildren helped name the new puppy Champ, a tribute to the nickname Joe Biden’s father called his son, according to Biden’s press secretary at the time.

Biden has had a long relationship with the breed, saying in an interview shortly after being champion: “I’ve had German Shepherds since I was a child.”

The Bidens also have another German Shepherd named Major, a 3-year-old puppy that they adopted in November 2018 from the Delaware Humane Association. Biden told reporters earlier this year that he adopted Major in part as Champ’s companion, to keep the older dog busy and active.
Both dogs were featured in ads for Biden’s 2020 campaign for president. Less than a week after his inauguration, Biden restored the presidential tradition of bringing pets to the White House by taking Champ and Major with them.

“Champ is enjoying his new dog bed by the fireplace, and Major liked to run on the south lawn,” the first lady’s press secretary, Michael LaRosa, told CNN at the time.

The dogs spent a brief period in Delaware this year following a biting incident involving Major, but returned to Washington in late March.

Jill Biden noted during a February appearance on Kelly Clarkson’s talk show that she was focusing on adapting Champ and Major to life in the White House.

“They have to take the elevator, they are not used to that, and they have to go out onto the south lawn with a lot of people watching them,” added the first lady. “So that’s what obsesses me, getting everyone to settle down and calm down.”

Biden told Clarkson that the company of the dogs was constant.

“They love to be wherever we are. Even though my door is closed, they’re sitting right outside the door like, ‘Let me in! Let me in!’,” She said.

It was a sentiment echoed in Saturday’s statement from the president and the first lady, who noted: “Even though Champ’s strength waned in his final months, every time we walked into a room he would get up again. immediately, his tail still wagging, us for a scratch on the ear or a belly massage.Where we were he wanted to be, and everything was better when he was next to us.

“We love our nice, sweet boy and will always be missed,” they added.

This story has been updated with additional details.

CNN’s Jason Hoffman contributed to this report.

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