The president and first lady said their “hearts are heavy” as they bid farewell to their dog Champ, who died on Saturday. Champ, the 13-year-old German shepherd, had been with the Bidens since 2008 and died “peacefully” at the family home in Wilmington, Delaware. “He was our constant, cherished companion during the last 13 years and was adored by the entire Biden family,” President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden said.
The president and first lady praised Champ for accompanying them through the ups and downs of life. “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,” they said. “We love our sweet, good boy and will miss him always.” Biden picked out Champ when he was only one month old from a breeder in Chester County, Pa. Jill Biden had told her husband they would get a dog if he and Barack Obama won the 2008 presidential election. “I’ve had German shepherds since I was a kid and I’ve actually trained them and shown them in the past,” Biden said at the time.
Biden’s grandchildren chose the dog’s name on Christmas of 2008. The name was in honor of Biden’s father who always told him, “Get up champ,” when he had a tough time, a detail Biden often mentioned on the campaign trail. He quickly got used to life as a member of the Biden family. “In his younger days, he was happiest chasing golf balls on the front lawn of the Naval Observatory or racing to catch our grandchildren as they ran around our backyard in Delaware,” the Bidens said.
Recently, Champ’s health deteriorated but he remained an important part of the household. “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. Wherever we were, he wanted to be, and everything was instantly better when he was next to us,” the Bidens said. “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 comforting presence in meetings, or sunning himself in the White House garden.”
Champ’s death means the Bidens now only have one dog, their younger German shepherd named Major. He was adopted from the Delaware Humane Society in 2018. Major was in the news earlier this year after he was involved in two separate biting incidents at the White House. That led Major and Champ to be sent back home to Delaware for a bit of training before they returned to the White House in March.