If You Want a Friend in Washington, Get a Dog…But What if the Dog Isn’t Friendly?
Having a pet in the White House can be quite a challenge, as President Biden has come to realize. A series of biting incidents involving the family dogs has led to the banishment of a second dog from the presidential residence. Commander, a 2-year-old German shepherd, has been sent to an undisclosed location to protect the Secret Service agents who are supposed to be protecting the president. This is not the first time a presidential canine has been removed from the White House due to aggressive behavior. Two years ago, Major, another family dog, was also sent away. While this situation has provided fodder for tabloids and late-night comics, it also sheds light on the complex dynamics within one of the world’s most exclusive mansions.
Tensions and Resentment
The relationship between a president and the staff serving him is inherently fraught. The two parties must adjust to each other’s habits, preferences, and needs. However, in this case, insiders claim that resentment and suspicion have strained the relationship between the president and his staff. Secret Service agents and officers, as well as residential staff, have been baffled and frustrated by the president’s failure to take decisive action sooner. They have felt uncomfortable and unsure if they might get bitten when working around the dogs. The presence of Commander on the White House grounds has even complicated their assignments, with certain areas being declared off-limits when the dog was around.
Records obtained by a conservative watchdog organization indicate that there have been at least 10 instances of aggressive behavior from Commander, but insiders claim that the real total is closer to two or three dozen. One previous biting incident was so severe that it resulted in a Secret Service officer requiring hospital treatment. The situation has been a major concern for the safety and well-being of those working at the White House.
A President and His Family at Odds with the White House
President Biden and his family have struggled to feel at home in the White House. They frequently escape to their real homes in Delaware or Camp David on the weekends. The family dogs have been a source of comfort in the otherwise museum-like presidential residence, and the Bidens have been reluctant to part with them. Some speculate that the Secret Service leaked news of the dog bites to force the president’s hand in taking action.
Addressing the Issue
The White House has expressed concern for those affected by the aggressive behavior of the dogs. They acknowledge the problem and have taken steps to address it, though so far without success. However, it has not gone unnoticed that the White House statement did not include a direct apology to those who were bitten. Trust issues between the president and the Secret Service may be contributing to the strained relationship.
A History of Troublesome White House Pets
President Biden is not the first to have trouble disciplining his canine friends. Previous presidents, such as Theodore Roosevelt, had pets with aggressive tendencies. Roosevelt’s dog, Pete, chased and bit multiple people, including the French ambassador, before being sent away. Other presidents, like Herbert Hoover and Franklin D. Roosevelt, also had dogs that had to be removed from the White House due to their behavior. The bond between a president and his dog is often a source of comfort and companionship in the stressful environment of the presidency.
The Bidens and Their Dogs
The Bidens have a deep connection with their dogs, considering them integral members of the family. Their dogs were free to roam in their homes in Delaware, and Jill Biden would even FaceTime with them while on the campaign trail. After the death of their dog Champ and Major being sent away due to biting incidents, James Biden gifted Commander to the president. The first lady would bring Commander to her office in the East Wing, where he had a fenced-in section in the Jacqueline Kennedy Garden to run around. However, it became clear that Commander was not adjusting well to life in Washington, as the stressful environment of the White House can be challenging for pets.
A Sensitive Relationship
The relationship between the Bidens and the Secret Service has always been sensitive. During Joe Biden’s time as vice president, they experienced difficult and bonding moments together, including the death of his son Beau. However, Joe Biden’s regular trips home to Delaware and fluid plans often caused frustration among the agents, who had to make last-minute arrangements and sacrifice time with their own families. Furthermore, as president, Biden noticed a perceived closeness between some Secret Service agents and his predecessor, Donald Trump, which raised concerns about their loyalty.
Read More of this Story at www.nytimes.com – 2023-10-06 23:20:54
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