Bad dog. That is the collective scolding directed at Major, the youngest of the Bidens’ two German shepherds, after he apparently bit someone at the White House. Major was involved in a “biting incident” with a member of White House security, according to CNN. The dog on Monday “was surprised by an unfamiliar person and reacted in a way that resulted in a minor injury to the individual, which was handled by the White House medical unit with no further treatment needed,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki informed reporters on Tuesday. But she declined to confirm whether the incident involved a member of the presidential protective detail. The Secret Service referred an inquiry from VOA to the White House press office. It directed the query to the office of first lady Jill Biden, which did not respond with further details. During the briefing, Psaki said she encouraged reporters to ask the Secret Service about the identity of the person injured. That exchange had some reporters feeling like a dog chasing its tail. FILE – U.S. first lady Jill Biden pets one of the family dogs, Champ, after his arrival from Delaware at the White House in Washington, Jan. 24, 2021. (Adam Schultz/White House/Handout via Reuters)Major, along with his elder companion, Champ, are temporarily back in President Joe Biden’s home state of Delaware on a pre-planned stay in the care of family friends during the first lady’s visits early this week to military bases in the states of California and Washington. The dogs are “still getting acclimated and accustomed to their new surroundings and new people,” Psaki said at Tuesday’s White House briefing. “Any change in environment can result in a change in behavior,” according to Cornell University Professor Emeritus Katherine Houpt, a veterinary behaviorist. “My guess is that the dog probably was showing mild signs back in Delaware, and then in this very exciting, challenging environment” of the White House. “There’s a dog bed leaning against a wall outside the White House,” Jordan Fabian, a correspondent for Bloomberg, noted in a tweet Tuesday morning. There’s a dog bed leaning against a wall outside the White House FILE – U.S. President Joe Biden’s dogs Champ and Major are seen on the South Lawn at the White House in Washington, Feb. 16, 2021.Major and Champ have generated significant media interest after a four-year absence of pets at the White House while Donald Trump was president. German shepherds, as a large breed intended for guard work, require special attention. “So, it’s not surprising that if you’re going to have a problem, it’s going to be aggression to strangers,” said Houpt. “And of course, putting the dog in an environment with so many strange people” — and some of them being imposing-looking security personnel — “that’s more of a threat to the dog.” The Bidens could get outside assistance for Major, whose aggression may be fear-based, Houpt added. “There are several veterinary behaviorists in the Washington, D.C., area, so they should probably make use of their talents. And the dog needs behavior modification and maybe even psycho-pharmacological treatment to reduce his aggression,” the Cornell professor advised. “It will only take five minutes a day to practice his obedience,” she added. “And if they’re really worried, it will be better to muzzle the dog. It won’t make him worse. It won’t make him better. But it will protect the public.” The situation could be further complicated by the arrival of a cat. The Bidens announced last November that a feline would also join them at the White House, an apparent attempt to bridge the national divide between dog and cat lovers. The most famous “first cat” in modern times was Socks, a stray adopted by President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton. FILE – Socks the cat walks behind President Bill Clinton, far left, on the White House lawn, March 6, 1997.During the presidency of George W. Bush, the White House was home to three dogs and a cat. They made way for two Portuguese water dogs during President Barack Obama’s administration. Bush’s Scottish terrier, Barney, was known to have sunk his teeth into two people, including nipping the right index finger of then-Reuters reporter Jon Decker, who had tried to pet the first dog during the canine’s morning walk on White House grounds. FILE – U.S. President George W. Bush holds his pet, Barney, as he and first lady Laura Bush walk down the ramp from Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base outside Washington, Jan. 1, 2006.“It did not dissuade me from petting presidential dogs,” Decker, now a White House correspondent for Gray TV, told VOA. “Barney was a good dog,” he said, despite the incident which required him to get a tetanus shot. FILE – President Barack Obama and Aung San Suu Kyi, State Counsellor and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Myanmar, visit with Obama family pets Bo and Sunny in the Cabinet Room of the White House following their bilateral meeting, Sept. 14, 2016.Sunny, one of the Obama dogs, bit the face of a family guest who tried to kiss her. The 18-year-old woman, after being examined by the White House physician, was told to get stitches. Trump, according to White House historians, was the first president since James Polk in 1849 not to have a pet while in office. White House menagerie Most of the presidential pets have been cats or dogs. But President Theodore Roosevelt, who had six children, had numerous dogs, a one-legged rooster, guinea pigs, a lizard, a rabbit, a snake, a hyena, a pony and a brown bear. One of the dogs, a bull terrier named Pete, bit numerous people and ripped the pants of the French ambassador, according to historians. The John F. Kennedy White House also took on the trappings of a small zoo, with dogs, cats, birds, hamsters, a white rabbit named Zsa Zsa and a pony named Macaroni — a gift for daughter Caroline from Vice President Lyndon Johnson.  
 

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