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The Bidens say hello to new puppy Commander, and Major is off to a new home

President Biden shared photo and video footage of his new puppy, Commander, on social media Monday. The nearly 4-month-old German shepherd was a birthday gift from the president's brother and sister-in-law.
@POTUS/Instagram
President Biden shared photo and video footage of his new puppy, Commander, on social media Monday. The nearly 4-month-old German shepherd was a birthday gift from the president's brother and sister-in-law.

There's a new top dog at the White House.

The latest addition to the Biden family is a purebred German shepherd puppy named Commander. President Biden shared the news — along with some adorable photo and video footage — on social media Monday.

Michael LaRosa, press secretary for first lady Jill Biden, told NPR over email that Commander, who is just shy of 4 months old, was a birthday gift from the president's brother and sister-in-law, James and Sara Biden. The president turned 79 on Nov. 20.

Commander arrived at the White House on Monday afternoon, LaRosa confirmed.

The little guy has massive paws to fill, in an administration-slash-family where German shepherds have loomed large.

The Bidens' oldest dog, Champ, died in June at the age of 13. Major, whom they adopted as a puppy in 2018, notably became the first rescue dog to go from a shelter to the White House.

That adjustment proved a rough one. Major spent time at the family's home in Delaware and received remedial training after two nipping incidents in March, reportedly involving a Secret Service agent and a National Park Service employee.

The president and first lady have both defended Major as a sweet, lovable dog who just needed some extra training to adapt to his new surroundings. Still, it seems they have since decided that the White House may not be the best home for him.

"After consulting with dog trainers, animal behaviorists, and veterinarians, the First Family has decided to follow the experts' collective recommendation that it would be safest for Major to live in a quieter environment with family friends," LaRosa said. "This is not in reaction to any new or specific incident, but rather a decision reached after several months of deliberation as a family and discussions with experts."

The Bidens are set to welcome another furry family member in the near future: a cat. Rumors and reports about a potential first feline have circulated for months with the first lady saying in April that "she is waiting in the wings." And now the time has come.

LaRosa confirms that a female cat will join the family in January.


This story originally appeared on the Morning Edition live blog.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Rachel Treisman (she/her) is a writer and editor for the Morning Edition live blog, which she helped launch in early 2021.