In a sad start to an otherwise quiet news day, US President Joe Biden and his wife announced on Saturday that Champ, their “beloved” German Shepherd who had been with their family since 2008, has died.

“Our hearts are heavy today as we let you all know that our beloved German Shepherd, Champ, passed away peacefully at home,” President Biden and first lady Jill Biden said in a statement. “He was our constant, cherished companion during the last 13 years and was adored by the entire Biden family.”

The Bidens continued: “He loved nothing more than curling up at our feet in front of a fire at the end of the day, joining us as a comforting presence in meetings, or sunning himself in the White House garden. In his younger days, he was happiest chasing golf balls on the front lawn of the Naval Observatory or racing to catch our grandchildren as they ran around our backyard in Delaware.”

In recent months, Champ’s health had declined, due in large part to his advanced age.

The acquiring of Champ was a promise kept by Jill Biden, who said her husband could get a dog if he and Barack Obama won the presidential election.

The Biden grandchildren helped to name the new puppy, Champ, an homage to the nickname Joe Biden’s father called his son.

Jill Biden, the first lady, noted: “Even as Champ’s strength waned in his last months, whenever we came into a room, he would immediately pull himself up, his tail always wagging, and nuzzle us for an ear scratch or a belly rub. Wherever we were, he wanted to be, and everything was instantly better when he was next to us.”

“We love our sweet, good boy and will miss him always,”