If you would like a good friend in Washington, get a canine, Harry S. Truman supposedly as soon as stated. However what if the canine isn’t all that pleasant?
For President Biden, pet possession within the White Home has proved to be a presidential headache as a collection of biting incidents, together with one that’s stated to have left blood on the ground, has now pressured him to banish a second household canine from 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Commander, the 2-year-old German shepherd who at instances has been extra battle animal than consolation animal, has been dispatched to what a earlier administration might need referred to as an undisclosed location to guard the Secret Service brokers who’re presupposed to be defending the president — simply as Main, one other presidential canine, was two years in the past.
The sad finish to Commander’s time period within the White Home has offered fodder for tabloids and late-night comics but in addition hints on the difficult and generally tense dynamics inside one of many world’s most unique mansions. The connection between a president and the employees that serves him is inherently fraught as the 2 regulate to one another’s habits, preferences and wishes. However on this case, in accordance with insiders, it has additionally been strained by resentment and suspicion.
For Secret Service brokers and officers in addition to residential employees, the president’s failure to take decisive motion sooner has been baffling and irritating, individuals near them say. The brokers haven’t any selection however to stay near the president and have felt uncomfortable not figuring out if they could get bitten. Areas of the White Home grounds had been declared off limits when Commander was round, complicating their assignments.
Data obtained by a conservative watchdog group this previous summer time indicated that there had been a minimum of 10 cases of aggressive habits earlier than an eleventh reported incident final week. Nonetheless, two individuals who have been briefed on the matter however requested to not be recognized due to its sensitivity stated on Friday that the actual whole is extra like two or three dozen. One beforehand reported biting incident, by which a Secret Service officer required hospital remedy, was so dangerous that it spilled blood on the ground, in accordance with one of many individuals.
On the opposite aspect is a president and his household who don’t appear to really feel all that at residence within the White Home, a lot in order that they escape practically each weekend to one among their actual houses in Delaware or, alternatively, Camp David. The canine has been one among their sources of consolation within the museum-like presidential mansion, and the household has been reluctant to lose him. Some across the president suspect the Secret Service of leaking the information of the canine bites to power his hand.
“Clearly, this has turn into a serious drawback,” stated Larry Cosme, president of the Federal Legislation Enforcement Officers Affiliation, which represents Secret Service personnel. “I’m glad they’re addressing it now. However what number of bites does it take to handle it?”
The White Home has issued statements expressing concern for these affected. “The president and the primary girl care deeply concerning the security of those that work on the White Home and those that defend them each day,” Elizabeth Alexander, a spokeswoman for Jill Biden, stated this week. “They continue to be grateful for the persistence and help of the U.S. Secret Service and all concerned as they proceed to work by means of options.”
White Home officers stress that they took steps to handle the issue although they didn’t succeed. But it surely has not gone unnoticed within the Secret Service that the White Home assertion didn’t embody an express apology to those that had been bitten.
The Bidens respect these guarding them, in accordance with one former administration official, who like others requested to not be recognized discussing private issues, however who stated that for quite a lot of causes there are belief points.
After all, a chunk from Commander hardly compares to the biting rhetoric from a former commander in chief, and a few round Mr. Biden bristle at consideration to the matter whereas his predecessor, Donald J. Trump, threatens these he dislikes with execution whereas going through a number of prison and civil expenses.
Because it occurs, Mr. Trump was the primary president in practically one and a half centuries who didn’t have a canine within the White Home. And others have had bother disciplining their canine pals, in accordance with Andrew Hager, the historian in residence for the Presidential Pet Museum, a web-based tribute to animals which have lived within the White Home.
Theodore Roosevelt had a menagerie on the mansion, together with a pony, a zebra, a parrot, bears, a lion, a hyena, a coyote, rats and a one-legged rooster. He additionally had an aggressive canine named Pete who chased and bit a number of individuals, together with the French ambassador, earlier than lastly being despatched off to stay at Sagamore Hill, the household’s New York residence.
King Tut, a Belgian Shepherd owned by Herbert Hoover, had beforehand been a police canine and struggled on the White Home as a result of he was so nervous and anxious about defending the household. Data aren’t clear on what he did, however the Hoovers finally despatched him again to their home on S Road in Washington.
Franklin D. Roosevelt, like Mr. Biden, had a German shepherd additionally named Main, who tore the pants of the British prime minister at a state dinner in 1933. He was despatched away too. Barney, the Scottish terrier beloved by George W. Bush, bit a Reuters reporter in 2008, however with the president’s time period simply weeks from expiring, the canine received to remain till the top.
“The presidency is an extremely lonely job with pressures and burdens few individuals can probably perceive,” stated Lindsay M. Chervinsky, a senior fellow at Southern Methodist College’s Middle for Presidential Historical past. “Accordingly, most presidents have discovered it enormously useful to have dog-friends who don’t actually care what they did proper or fallacious, don’t care concerning the ballot numbers or fund-raising objectives, and easily love them regardless.”
The Bidens clearly really feel the identical means. Their canine have lengthy been an integral a part of the household and will roam freely at their houses in Rehoboth Seashore and Wilmington, Del. Jill Biden would generally FaceTime along with her canine from the marketing campaign path in 2016. After their canine Champ died in 2021 at age 13 and Main was despatched to stay with pals of the Bidens’ due to his personal biting, James Biden, the president’s brother, gave him Commander as a birthday reward.
The primary girl would convey Commander together with Willow the cat to her workplace within the East Wing, the place there have been meals bowls ready. The canine had a fenced-in part within the Jacqueline Kennedy Backyard the place he may run round. However his coaching evidently by no means absolutely clicked, and he by no means adjusted to life in Washington. “The White Home generally is a anxious setting for pets,” Ms. Alexander stated.
The connection between the Bidens and the Secret Service was delicate even earlier than any fangs had been bared. Throughout his days as vice chairman, they shared some troublesome, bonding moments collectively, together with the loss of life of his son Beau. However then as now, Mr. Biden made some extent of touring residence to Delaware recurrently, with plans usually fluid till the final minute, which produced grumbling amongst brokers who needed to scramble to make preparations after which misplaced weekends with their very own households.
On the similar time, as soon as he gained the presidency, Mr. Biden seen that some within the Secret Service appeared to have grown near Mr. Trump and reportedly puzzled about their loyalty. When the primary biting incident involving Main was reported, Mr. Biden instructed a good friend that “it didn’t occur” and that somebody was mendacity, in accordance with “The Battle of His Life,” Chris Whipple’s account of the early Biden time period. Mr. Whipple, who had intensive entry to Mr. Biden’s employees, reported that the president didn’t really feel snug talking freely round his brokers.
However Anthony Guglielmi, the chief of communications for the Secret Service, denied that there was friction. “The connection isn’t strained,” he stated. “Particularly the brokers of the P.P.D., the presidential protecting division, have an amazing quantity of respect and belief for the president and I can say that that’s mutual.”
Ms. Alexander echoed that. “The Bidens have the utmost respect and admiration for the Secret Service and have all the time skilled a heat, private and trusting relationship with them all through their years within the White Home and vice chairman,” she stated.
As for Truman, it seems that he could by no means have really uttered the sage phrases so usually attributed to him.
The get-a-dog quote started exhibiting up in The New York Instances within the Nineteen Eighties credited to the previous president, however in actuality could have originated from a play that includes a Truman character. “Now we have by no means been capable of affirm or confirm that President Truman ever wrote or stated, ‘If you would like a good friend in Washington, get a canine,’” stated Sam Rushay, supervisory archivist on the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum.
And it was not recommendation Truman took himself. When a crate arrived on the White Home simply earlier than Christmas in 1947 with a 5-week-old cocker spaniel named Feller as a present, Truman was resistant to his charms and gave him to his White Home doctor, Wallace Graham. “The Trumans,” stated Mr. Rushay, “weren’t pet individuals.”