Every dog has its day, and today was Conan’s.
“It’s a great honor to have Conan here,” Trump told reporters outside the White House as Vice President Mike Pence affectionately scratched the Belgian Malinois’s ears.
Conan was awarded a medal and a plaque to commemorate the Oct. 26 raid in which the dog was injured, Trump said.
“This is the ultimate fighter, ultimate everything,” Trump said of Conan.
Some confusion had surrounded the dog’s gender; White House officials initially identified the dog as a female, but later said he was a male.
Trump said he was shown how fast Conan can move. He said “a strong man, really strong, fighter” wouldn’t stand a chance against the dog.
“Conan is a tough cookie. Nobody’s going to mess with Conan,” Trump said before teasing a nearby reporter’s safety.
“You’re very lucky. He’s not in a bad mood today, Jeff. Not in a bad mood, you’re safe,” Trump said.
This followed the president telling reporters: “It’s trained that if you open your mouths you will be attacked. You ought to be very, very careful.”
Trump ― who has broken with presidential tradition by not having a dog as part of his White House family ― did not pet Conan in view of the public and appeared to ignore a reporter asking if he wanted to touch the animal. First lady Melania Trump also did not interact with Conan, instead standing to the side a few feet away.
The president also said he met with members of the special operations forces that took part in the raid in which Baghdadi died after detonating a suicide vest (the blast also killed two of his young children.) The military personnel did not publicly meet with reporters in an effort to protect their identity.
Pence said the visit by Conan and the members of the special forces team is a “reflection of all of the armed forces and the great job that they do.”
“Conan is really a hero,” he said. “It’s a real joy to help welcome him to the White House.”
This story has been updated after a White House official said Conan is male, not female, as initially reported by the White House.