It’s longstanding tradition for first ladies to visit Children’s National Hospital at Christmastime, but Joe Biden’s visit on Friday was a surprise.
It marked the first time that a sitting president had joined the fun, the White House said.
The Bidens are set to help a group of children making lanterns as part of a winter craft project.
Jill Biden will also sit by the Christmas tree and read Olaf’s Night Before Christmas to the kids.
Video of her reading will also be shown in patient rooms throughout the hospital.
The Walt Disney Co. provided copies of the book for each patient so they can follow along with the first lady, the White House said.
Each book includes a White House bookmark designed by her office.
The annual tradition of a hospital visit by the first lady dates to Bess Truman, who served in the role from 1945-1953.
Biden shared a photo on his official Twitter account of the 3-month-old male puppy with a caption that said, “Welcome to the White House, Commander.”
He also released a brief video of him tossing a ball to Commander and walking the leashed dog into the White House.
Commander was born Sept. 1 and arrived at the White House on Monday afternoon, a gift from the president’s brother, James Biden, and sister-in-law Sara Biden, according to Michael LaRosa, a spokesperson for first lady Jill Biden.
His name appears to be a play on Biden’s status as commander in chief of the US armed forces.
The Bidens had two other German shepherds — Champ and Major — with them at the White House before Commander.
But Major, a 3-year-old rescue dog, ended up in the proverbial dog house following a pair of biting incidents in the months after his arrival last January. He was sent home to Delaware for training before he was returned to the White House.
White House officials had explained Major’s aggressive behaviour by saying he was still getting used to his new surroundings.
But he was sent away again. Now, his permanent exile from the executive mansion appears official.
“After consulting with dog trainers, animal behaviourists, and veterinarians, the First Family has decided to follow the experts’ collective recommendation that it would be safest for Major to live in a quieter environment with family friends,” LaRosa said in an emailed statement.
“This is not in reaction to any new or specific incident, but rather a decision reached after several months of deliberation as a family and discussions with experts.”
Champ died in June at age 13.