Good boy? Good girl? The question seemed simple enough, but the media had a hard time figuring out the answer.
The sex of Conan the dog, the hero Belgian Malinois who played a starring role in the October U.S. military raid that led to the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, has been debated for days.
On Monday, President Donald Trump used male pronouns to refer to the canine when presenting it with a medal and a certificate in honor of its service. So did Vice President Mike Pence, who called it “a real joy to be able to help welcome him” to the Rose Garden.
Later, a White House official told reporters the dog was a female, then said it was a male.
On Tuesday, ABC News reported yet another reversal after a Defense Department official said that Conan is a female. Then two defense officials told the outlet they were sure it is a male.
In a response to HuffPost, the White House attempted to put the matter to rest.
“He’s male,” a spokesperson said.
In an official statement to BuzzFeed News, the Pentagon said that per the U.S. Special Operations Command, “Conan is a male dog.”
Anatomical questions aside, Conan has commanded national attention since Trump posted a declassified photo of the dog on Twitter, praising it for having done “such a GREAT JOB” in the northwestern Syria raid.
According to the president, military dogs were a central component in the operation. In his announcement of Baghdadi’s death, Trump said the terror kingpin was “whimpering and crying and screaming” while being chased into a dead-end tunnel where he detonated a suicide vest, killing himself and three of his children whom he had brought with him.
On Tuesday, Trump said Conan “was very badly hurt” and that “they thought maybe was not going to recover.”
But Conan, the president added, “recovered, actually very, quickly and has since gone on very important raids.”
This story has been updated with a statement from the Pentagon.