“Major is still adjusting to his new surroundings and he nipped someone while on a walk,” Michael LaRosa, press secretary for first lady Jill Biden, said in a statement. “Out of an abundance of caution, the individual was seen by [the White House Medical Unit] and then returned to work without injury.”
It’s not the first time Major has gotten negative press since Biden’s election, despite the much-heralded return of dogs to the White House after a drought of presidential canine companionship during the Trump administration.
In November, Biden slipped while playing with Major and injured his foot, necessitating the temporary use of a walking boot.
Earlier this month, Major, who is about 3 years old, reportedly nipped at a Secret Service agent’s hand at the White House. The bite didn’t break the agent’s skin, and there was no bleeding, according to a White House official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a sensitive subject.
Major returned to Biden’s home in Delaware for a brief time after the first biting incident, and as his absence was noticed, questions arose about what would become of the German shepherd.
The White House was initially silent on the biting incident but later offered a partial explanation — the equivalent of saying Major was taking time away from official duties to spend time with family.
“With the first lady traveling for three days, Champ and Major went to Delaware to stay with family friends,” LaRosa said then.
A fuller explanation came a short time later, when White House press secretary Jen Psaki was asked about it at a news briefing and responded with what appeared to be a prepared statement, defusing the darkest theories about the pet’s fate.
“Champ and Major, the president and first lady’s dogs, are members of the family and still getting acclimated and accustomed to their new surroundings and new people,” Psaki said then, reading from her notes.
Major, she added, had been “surprised by an unfamiliar person and reacted in a way that resulted in a minor injury to the individual.”
The Bidens adopted Major in 2018 from the Delaware Humane Society. A photo from the society showed the man who would become 46th president of United States holding a leashed puppy in his hand beneath the humane society’s symbol: a human hand reaching out to an animal’s paw. In another picture, Biden showed Major a picture of himself as a younger pup.
Major was one of a half-dozen puppies brought to the rescue agency after they came into contact with something toxic in their home, according to the society. The puppies’ owners couldn’t afford veterinary care and surrendered the animals to the humane society, which posted about the German shepherd.
Biden said in an interview with ABC News earlier this month that Major was receiving more training after the initial biting incident. He chalked up the episode to the dog trying to protect his family and denied that Major had been “banished” to Delaware.
“You turn a corner, and there’s two people you don’t know at all. And [Major] moves to protect,” said Biden. “But he’s a sweet dog. Eighty-five percent of the people there love him. He just — all he does is lick them and wag his tail. But . . . I realize some people, understandably, are afraid of dogs to begin with.”
Champ, the president and first lady’s other German shepherd, is older and so far has not generated any biting-related headlines.