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Opinion: Who's a bite-y boy?

U.S. President Joe Biden's dog, Commander, is walked on the south side of the White House before a signing ceremony for the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 on August 9, 2022 in Washington, DC.
Chip Somodevilla
Getty Images
U.S. President Joe Biden's dog, Commander, is walked on the south side of the White House before a signing ceremony for the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022 on August 9, 2022 in Washington, DC.

Pets have their own language. It's part of their charm. They paw, scratch, sniff, slobber, yowl, and display affection, anxiety, devotion and delight in the most direct ways. They beg for head pats and belly-rubs, stalk crumbs and sneak snacks. And occasionally, they snap. Grrr!

President Biden, who must already contend with Congress, foreign powers, the economy, and climate crisis, may now also have to worry about the deportment of one of his dogs.

Commander, the Bidens' 2-year-old German Shepard, reportedly bit a Secret Service agent at the White House this week....again. This is the 11th report that Commander has sunk his incisors into a member of the Secret Service. Agents may begin to wonder if their sworn duty to protect the President and their family should also entail being a doggie chew toy.

Elizabeth Alexander, communications director for Jill Biden, issued a statement on what someone might begin to call, "Bitergate."

"The White House can be a stressful environment for family pets," it said, "and the First Family continues to work on ways to help Commander handle the often unpredictable nature of the White House grounds."

Major, another Biden family dog, has already had to be "re-located" from the White House after several biting incidents.

All the sirens coming and going, lights blinking, and the chop-chop-chop of the president's helicopter landing and leaving. Summit meetings and state dinners? No pets allowed. Same with press conferences and cabinet meetings—you never know when the honorable Secretary of Something or Other might be allergic to pet dander and start sneezing, just as the President signs an Executive Order.

Professional and college sports champs come to the White House with a team jersey for the President. Foreign dignitaries offer "gifts of state" - fountain pens, rugs, and art. But I've never seen them bring along so much as a squeaky duck for a presidential pet. Peanut butter? Not even once.

Don't you think that at some point, you might begin to snap?

This weekend, as Congress fails to pass even a short-term spending bill and another government shutdown looms - I wonder if the president might convene another meeting of Congressional leaders. And this time, invite Commander into the Oval Office.

"Do we have a budget deal?" the president might ask. "Or do I tell Commander, 'Sic 'em!'"

Copyright 2023 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Scott Simon is one of America's most admired writers and broadcasters. He is the host of Weekend Edition Saturday and is one of the hosts of NPR's morning news podcast Up First. He has reported from all fifty states, five continents, and ten wars, from El Salvador to Sarajevo to Afghanistan and Iraq. His books have chronicled character and characters, in war and peace, sports and art, tragedy and comedy.

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