US President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden’s faithful German Shepherd Champ died over the weekend. He was 13 (91 in human years), a remarkable old age for a large-breed dog.
“We love our sweet, good boy and will miss him always,” the Bidens said in a heartfelt statement.
“Our hearts are heavy as we let you all know that our beloved German Shepherd, Champ, passed peacefully at home. He was our constant, cherished companion during the last 13 years and was adored by the entire Biden family.”
The President got Champ as a puppy when he was vice president to Barack Obama in 2008. He had always taken care of German Shepherds since he was boy and Champ was a campaign promise that Dr. Jill made to her husband.
Twitter and Instagram users have been sending the Bidens sympathy and love, and posting pictures of their own dogs.
As pet owners know, taking care of a senior dog has its own joys but it also comes with sadness every day as you see your dog getting frail so fast and unable to feed himself.
As puppies, they are rambunctious, little typhoons inside the house; in their very old age, you can still see the mischief in their eyes—sometimes glazed with inoperable glaucoma—and their excitement when you come home, but gone is that energy to jump up at you and steal your shoe to be chased around the house.
“Even as Champ’s strength waned in his last months, when we came into a room, he would immediately pull himself up, his tail wagging, and nuzzle us for an ear scratch or belly rub,” the Bidens said. “Wherever we were, he wanted to be, and everything was instantly better when he was next to us. 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 is survived by his younger brother Major, a former shelter dog the Bidens adopted from the Delaware Humane Association after initially fostering him.
Champ and Major brought back the tradition of White House pets when they moved from Delaware to Washington, DC. They are also among the very few large breeds the White House has hosted.
Both dogs were part of Joe Biden’s presidential campaign in 2020, taking a swipe at then President Donald Trump, often characterized as a narcissist, who was not a pet owner and broke more than a hundred years of White House being a home for presidential pets.
When my pet passed someone sent me this. It brought some comfort through the grief. Just some.
So sorry for your loss. pic.twitter.com/DqW2vkQACA— Steve Marmel (@Marmel) June 19, 2021
The Obamas, whom the Trumps succeeded, got two Portuguese water dogs for their daughters Malia and Sasha (also a campaign promise). The older dog also died recently. On May 9, Obama tweeted that Bo was “a true friend and loyal companion. For more than a decade, Bo was a constant, gentle presence in our lives—happy to see us on our good days, our bad days, and everyday in between.”
What touched many pet owners the most about the Bidens’ tribute to Champ was the part when they described him as a comforting presence. “In our most joyful moments and in our most grief-stricken days, he was there with us, sensitive to our every unspoken feelings and emotions.” In 2015, the couple lost their son Beau to brain tumor, which devastated the Bidens and made them closer to Gold Star families that have lost loved ones to war too. Beau Biden was diagnosed after serving in the military in Kosovo in 2001.
I’m terribly sorry for your loss Mr President....Sadly I know the feeling by heart...I lost my best friend a few weeks ago and he took part of my heart with him...I hope #Champ and Sammy can play together in heaven ....Hold onto the memories @FLOTUS pic.twitter.com/JcPWi5JmV8— Renegade Cowboy?? ?⚓️??? (@Rene_gadeCowboy) June 19, 2021
Among pet lovers who sent condolences to the Bidens was one who attached a picture of his Labrador retriever on a beach. “Politically we do not meet eye to eye. As dog lovers Ben & I send our condolences to the Biden family.”
Another was suffering from the same loss. “So sorry for your loss. Last night we also lost our 12+ year old good boy Luke (Skywalker). Your family is in our thoughts.”
Thoughts and prayers to your family during this difficult time.Champ was a Handsome Faithful Loving Dog. Our Dog Buddy is 13 and was diagnosed with Lymphoma 2 days after these pictures were taken last week he only has a few weeks left to live??God Bless All Dogs ???❤️??❤️?? pic.twitter.com/q4HsPT4BOM— Kenny Eroh (@VoteForDecency) June 21, 2021
Still, another said, “I’m terribly sorry for your loss Mr President. Sadly I know the feeling by heart. I lost my best friend a few weeks ago and he took part of my heart with him. I hope #Champ and Sammy can play together in heaven. Hold onto the memories @FLOTUS.”
Another message captured the relationship and feeling of loss when out pets die. “They wrap themselves around our hearts and leave such a huge hole when they're gone. Sending you heartfelt condolences.”
We are so sorry for the loss of your beautiful German Shepherd Champ. When we lose a member of our fur family we mourn the same as the loss of our human family. Please know we have you, your Mom & Dad and your family in our hearts & our prayers on this sad day.???#ChampBiden pic.twitter.com/xggwDYpFQU— Patriots Preserve Democracy (@KayKaty) June 19, 2021
The Bidens announced some time ago that they are getting a cat, which brings us to a funny post Joe Biden did last year. On National Cat Day in October, he posted a picture of his dog Major.
Dog lovers understood, cat lovers were not so amused.
For the Bidens, Champ was their true, faithful champion in their corner—in good times and bad.
Banner photos from the Bidens' Twitter and Instagram accounts, and @POTUS on Twitter