Washington (dpa) – US President Donald Trump on Monday walked out into the Rose Garden of the White House with his wife, Melania, Vice President Mike Pence and a dog, Conan, who was part of the special forces raid that killed Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Pence repeatedly petted the dog, while Trump hailed the animal’s service to the nation, but was more physically distant.
“Conan is a tough cookie,” Trump said, noting that the dog had been injured during the raid in a rebel-held area of northern Syria, near the Turkish border. “Conan was very badly hurt. He recovered actually very quickly and has since gone on very important raids.”
The surprise visit from the dog marked the more serious meeting behind the scenes between the president and the soldiers who carried out the raid to kill al-Baghdadi. The soldiers’ identities and faces are confidential, and the dog acted as a symbolic placeholder.
“The dog is incredible. So brilliant, so smart,” Trump said, announcing he awarded the canine a medal and a plaque. “Conan did a fantastic job… And we are very honoured to have Conan here.”
The president denied rumours that Conan, a Belgian Malinois, would be retired, saying he has several more good years of service left.
He called Conan “the ultimate fighter.”
Trump is notable for not having any pets in the White House, breaking from a long-standing tradition of his predecessors, who have kept dogs, cats, horses, birds and many other animals at the residence.
Thomas Jefferson briefly had a pair of grizzly bear cubs.
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