White House Pooch, Commander, Bites Back!

Mary Simpson
by Mary Simpson
Photo Credit: Tariq Iqbal03

Foreign relations, the struggling economy, natural disasters… and Commander. Yes, these are most likely the stressors that keep President Joe Biden up at night. You see, the Prez’s penchant for German Shepherd rescues has earned him some favorable press with the adopt-not-shop groups but not so much with those who have been sharing space with his latest pooch, Commander.

In fairness, it started with Biden’s original First Dog – Major. And it happened a mere two months after the family took up quarters in the White House. It seems Major had an “incident” with security and someone received a nasty bite. Hint: it wasn’t Major.

No blood was spilled however after a second chomp, Major was given a little time out back at the Biden homestead in Delaware. After a brief sojourn and some one-on-one training, the rehabilitated canine returned to his White House digs.

Alas, it was not to be and Major’s naughty nipping saw him back home in Delaware by year’s end. Experts suggested a quieter environment was the right fit for this handsome boy, and the Bidens sadly agreed.

Enter Commander.

In December 2021, this pure-bred pup was gifted to Biden by his brother in recognition of his 79th birthday. But the White House is not only a personal home but a place of business with hundreds of different faces walking the corridors and invading “his” space. So, Commander decided someone needed to take charge and he started to lunge, nip, and bite – hard.

Now, according to those experts in all things “dog” – the American Kennel Club (AKC) - the most common reasons for a dog to bite include:

-         Fear or a sense of being overwhelmed. They want to create distance from things/people they consider worrisome.

-         Protecting or guarding. If they feel their home is being intruded upon or they perceive their human is in danger.

So, it does make sense that a breed known for its courageous nature and fierce sense of loyalty is going to react when he sees Secret Service agents in dark suits and sunglasses crowding his pet parents, right? But 11 incidents of biting since his arrival at this prestigious Pennsylvania Avenue address means he’s over-stressed and Commander’s dedication to home and hearth may just have earned him a one-way ticket to Delaware.

That leaves First Cat, Willow ruling the roost. And if you think a dog can be nasty when stressed… you don’t want to cross a cranky cat.

But it is worth noting that these two pro-active protectors are not the first White House dogs to have taken umbrage with outsiders strolling the grounds. It seems Franklin Roosevelt’s German Shepherd dog (also named Major) tucked into then-UK Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald during a state visit. I guess he didn’t like his politics.

Mary Simpson
Mary Simpson

Sharing space with three seriously judgy Schnoodles and a feline who prefers to be left alone. #LivingMyBestLife

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