First Dog of the US: Life and Death of Joe Biden's Dog Champ

First Dog of the US: Life and Death of Joe Biden’s Dog Champ

joe-bidens-dog-champ

“Our hearts are heavy today as we let you all know that our beloved German Shepherd, Champ, passed away peacefully at home…. We love our sweet, good boy, and will miss him always”

Joe Biden

On June 19, 2021, the news of Champ’s death, a 13-years old companion of the Biden family, weighed heavily on the hearts of the Bidens and everyone else who heard it.

It is mentally devastating when you’ve spent 13 years of your life caring for a pet to a certain point when you start considering him your child, best friend, and a source of inner peace. And, then, he dies. It’s like a piece of you is ripped out of your heart. You look at his toys and are reminded of him. You remember that he’ll never be playing with them again. You see his food dish and remaining food in it, never to be used again. And, all the memories you had with him come flooding back. This is the pain Bidens are going through now.

When Was Champ Adopted by Joe Biden?

Champ became a part of the Biden family on the Christmas of 2008 and stayed with Joe Biden, at his VP residence, in the U.S. Naval Observatory in Washington, during his 8 years as 47th Vice president alongside President Barack Obama.

The dog was adopted from a breeder from Pennsylvania and named ‘Champ’ by Joe’s granddaughters, in honor of Joe Biden’s father, who used to say to Joe that “Any time you get knocked down, champ, get up!” —a title he now holds after winning the 2020 US elections.

Champ, along with Major, the younger German Shepherd of Biden’s family, was often seen on Biden’s social media pages and has also attended presidential campaigns with him.

When Did Champ Arrive at the White House?

Champ joined President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden, at the White House, a week after Mr Biden’s inauguration ceremony on January 20, 2021.

First Lady Jill Biden’s press secretary Michael LaRosa told media,

 “The First Family wanted to get settled before bringing the dogs down to Washington from Delaware.”

On Jan 25, First lady Jill Biden’s office celebrated the arrival of Champ and Major by posting pictures of the two dogs having fun in the South Lawn with a caption,

 “Champ and Major have joined us in the White House!” complementing the caption, the FLOTUS added hearts and paw emoji.

The tweet soon garnered 332.6k likes, 35.3k retweets, and 7.2k comments.

On the same day, Jill Biden’s press secretary Michael LaRosa told news channel,

 “Champ is enjoying his new dog bed by the fireplace, and Major loved running around on the South Lawn.”

On Feb 12, 2021, the C-Span’s official news channel uploaded the video of President Biden and the first lady, along with Champ and Major, looking at the White House Valentine’s Day decorations. In the video, it can be seen that Champ stood for a while but then he stumbled a little and sat down.

During Jill Biden’s interview with Kelly, host of the Kelly Clarkson show, talked about the acclimation of Champ to the White House saying,

“I have been obsessed with getting our dogs settled (in the White House) because we have an old dog and we have a very young dog. You know, they have to take the elevator, they are not used to that. They have to go out on the South Lawn with lots of people watching them. So that’s what I’ve been obsessed with, getting everybody settled and calm.”

In another clip of the interview, Jill Biden took Kelly to the South Lawn where Major and Champ were having the time of their lives. However, a noticeable fact was that as soon as Mrs. Biden entered the lawn, Major ran towards her, but Champ stayed where it was and seemed lethargic.

This interview was uploaded on Feb 25, 2021, and Champ was having health issues at that time. He was resting and didn’t feel like getting up, even in the presence of flashing cameras and Jill Biden, Kelly and other camera crew around him.

When Champ and Major came to the White House, it was the first time, after 4 long years of Trump’s tenure, that 1600 Pennsylvania Ave, the canine residence of the White House saw pets, as Trump’s family didn’t have any pet lovers. Trump told supporters at a rally in 2019 that he “wouldn’t mind having” a dog, “but I don’t have any time.”

Possible Reasons Behind Joe Biden’s Dog Death

Though there have been no medical reports issued by the White House about how did Joe Biden’s dog died but here we are discussing some possible reasons behind,

1. Age

As mentioned earlier Joe Biden’s dog Champ, a German Shepherd dog, died at the age of 13 years old.

Per the American Kennel Club research, the German Shepherd breed has an average life expectancy of 11 to 14 years.

This fact itself indicates that Biden’s dog was aged, his internal and external organs had grown weak, which ended up him being in the dog heavens. 

2. Musculoskeletal Disorders (MDs)

The most common cause of death in German Shepherds is any musculoskeletal disorder, which accounts for 16.3% of all GSDs deaths, making it the top killer disease of this breed. As Joe Biden’s dog Champ belonged to large breed dogs, there is a possibility that he may be predisposed to musculoskeletal disorders.  According to research, GSDs are highly likely to develop musculoskeletal disorders because of either larger body size or a fast growth rate.

These disorders can be congenital or inherited and impact different parts of the body. For example, the muscles and liver are affected by glycogenosis; muscles are impacted by muscular dystrophy (myopathy); hip is affected by hip dysplasia, and joints are affected by osteochondrosis

Let’s see how Joe Biden’s dog death can be the outcome of such disorders,

But, before that, what are the common symptoms of MDs,

  1. Weakness and lethargy
  2. Inability to get up
  3. Difficulty standing
  4. Loss of muscle mass in hind limbs
  5. Reluctance to play

In the recent videos of Biden’s Champ, he can be seen exhibiting all the above symptoms. Especially during the Valentine video, he couldn’t stand on his hind legs, which was a red flag of MDs.

It is noteworthy that MDs are often degenerative and perpetual conditions that do not readily lead to early death in affected dogs. Rather they substantially impact a dog’s health from their protracted durations by inducing debilitating pain and aches.

2. Inability to stand

According to the research, German Shepherd dogs are highly prone to inability to stand disorder, accounting for 14.9% of breed’s deaths.

The actual reason behind a German Shepherd’s inability to stand can only be conjectured, until the dog is thoroughly examined by the vet. But, in general, stumbling or loss of balance disorders are likely to be multifactorial and can occur due to musculoskeletal disorders, cardiovascular, neurological and neoplastic malfunctions, and other diverse conditions.

A dog may not be able to stand up because of intervertebral disc disease (IVDD), fibrocartilaginous embolism, a spinal disorder that affects all four limbs, difficulty in keeping balance for dogs, tick paralysis, etc.

So, how does this relate to Joe Biden’s dog death?

Well, look at the symptoms,

  1. Inability to stand
  2. Head tilt
  3. Weakness

These symptoms can also be correlated to Biden’s dog Champ.

4. Osteoarthritis (OA)

Another disease that could possibly have led to the death of Biden’s Champ is osteoarthritis or damage in joints because 5.54% of the German Shepherds have died because of this disease.

OA is a gradually worsening swelling of the joints in the legs, arms, knees, etc. caused by the degradation of cartilage. In cases of the joint affected by osteoarthritis, the cartilage cushion that allows the frictionless movement of the joint begins to deteriorate because of factors such as age, obesity, genetic disorders, repetitive stress, injury, or other joint disorders.

It is difficult to detect osteoarthritis in its early stages because often its symptoms do not appear until the cartilage in the joint is badly damaged. Signs of OA include,

  1. Lethargy
  2. Limping
  3. Difficulty getting up
  4. Reluctance to run, jump, or play

Seems familiar?

These are the symptoms that were quite visible in the video in which Joe Biden’s champ was ill.

Though there are a number of other joint diseases as well, there is more possibility that these ailments became the reason for death because of their high prevalence percentage in German Shepherds in general.

Indicating the exact reason behind Champ’s death will merely be speculation , at this time, unless the White House discloses any exact reason. However, our guess suggests that the age of Champ made him lethargic.

An incident occurred on March 31 when the first lady Jill Biden was going on a trip to California along with her dogs, the reporters spotted poop on the red carpet outside the Diplomatic Reception Room.

Later on, it was revealed that it was Champ who didn’t have any control left on his muscles and involuntarily pooped.

CNN’s Katie Bennett, who was there, said, “Any of us who have raised a dog into old age are very sensitive to the ways in which our beloved dogs show a decline. It broke my heart.”

However, other than weakness, Champ didn’t have any kind of pain, as Joe Biden said in his tweet that,

“Our hearts are heavy today as we let you all know that our beloved German Shepherd, Champ, passed away peacefully at home,”

Elucidating further, Biden mentioned that energy levels of his dog Champ scaled down with time,

“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,”

How Joe Biden and Jill Biden Took Care of Their Dog?

From the heartfelt obituary that Joe Biden wrote for Champ, it is clear that they knew their dog was getting old and sick.

Major, the young German Shepherd of the Biden family, was adopted because they were told that to keep their old dog get going and feel alive, bringing a young dog will help him out. And in a desperate attempt to help their dog out, they did that too.

Why Did Joe Biden Have German Shepherds?

Per critics, one of the reasons that Joe Biden had a dog was that it’s good for the presidential PR as it depicts empathy.

Though it would be akin to shooting in the dark guesstimating that why he had GDS and not any other breed, the reason can be as simple as that German Shepherds stand 2nd on the list of most popular dog breeds in the US; they are highly intelligent and trainable dogs; they are one of the best guard and protection dogs; they are affectionate and loyal to their owners; and they are good at agility sports, scent tracking, chasing, and guarding.

According to the ATTS temperament test, German Shepherds have a score of 85.3%, which means they have a cordial and friendly nature.

Calling GSDs “jack-of-all-trades” won’t be a fluke because they surely have all the qualities.

And having such an impeccable dog for 13 years and then losing him has hurt the Bidens a lot. It is a horrible feeling knowing that they will not see him again.

In Joe Biden’s words,

“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. We love our sweet, good boy and will miss him always.”

In the end, Keeping Pet extends its condolences to the Biden family. We understand that you are suffering and hurt, and as pet enthusiasts, we can empathize with you. Our deepest sympathies go out to you in this time of grief.

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