A presidential pet’s role is pretty straightforward. Its basic job duties include providing companionship to the First Family, looking cute while romping around the White House holiday decorations, and maybe authoring a children’s book.
You’d think that after decades in Washington, the Bidens would understand this, but for unclear reasons, they have created a ton of unnecessary presidential-pet drama. Now, in yet another weird twist, they have made the long-overdue decision to remove their bitey dog, Commander, from the White House, but they won’t say exactly where he is.
The Bidens’ pet weirdness started days after Joe won the 2020 election, when he and Jill said they were adopting a cat. For a full year, they kept teasing the cat’s arrival without fully explaining the holdup. Then, on December 20, 2021, they announced the coming of a new White House pet — but it was a second German shepherd, a puppy named Commander, not a cat. That same day, they said their other dog, Major, had left the White House to “live in a quieter environment with family friends” following two biting incidents. (A month later, Willow the cat finally made her White House debut.)
But the Bidens’ canine troubles were far from over. In July, email correspondence obtained by the conservative group Judicial Watch using the Freedom of Information Act revealed that Commander was routinely biting people at the White House. He had bitten at least ten since his arrival, including one Secret Service member who required hospitalization.
Because there had been a “two bites and you’re out” policy for Major, you’d think Commander would have been promptly removed from the White House once this story broke. But no: Commander was allowed to stay and continue his biting spree. The Secret Service revealed last week that the dog bit another agent on September 25.
Incredibly, even this 11th biting incident did not lead to Commander’s immediate departure. Instead, the White House seemed to shrug it off. “As we’ve noted before, the White House can be a stressful environment for family pets, and the First Family continues to work on ways to help Commander handle the often unpredictable nature of the White House grounds,” said Elizabeth Alexander, the First Lady’s communications director.
On Wednesday, however, the Daily Mail revealed that Commander had recently bitten a 12th person — and there was photographic evidence. A tourist unwittingly captured images of the dog biting White House groundskeeper Dale Haney last month.
Yet the White House’s weird secrecy about the dog continued. At a press conference on Wednesday, Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre wasn’t prepared to answer even basic questions about Commander:
On Thursday morning, the White House said Commander had finally been moved out … but they declined to explain where he is at the moment. Per the Washington Post:
“The President and First Lady care deeply about the safety of those who work at the White House and those who protect them every day,” the first lady’s communications director, Elizabeth Alexander, said in a statement. “They remain grateful for the patience and support” of those involved, she said.
“Commander is not presently on the White House campus while next steps are evaluated,” Alexander added, without specifying where the dog was sent.
Commander’s departure should have been the end of this story. I never wonder about Major Biden’s whereabouts; “with family friends” was all the explanation I needed. But this open-ended statement makes me only more curious about Commander’s fate. Is he “presently” in the land of the living? Is he at some ritzy training center for wayward celebrity dogs? Can he return to the White House if he gets his act together? And why can’t the Biden White House handle a simple “Dog (Repeatedly) Bites Man” story?
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