Controversy erupted at the White House on Monday after officials had to issue a correction regarding the gender of Conan, the hero dog who helped run down terror leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.
Early reports from the administration said it was a girl. But a later correction from the White House clarified that Conan, a Belgian Malinois, was a boy.
‘Conan was something and created quite a stir,’ President Trump told reporters later in the day at a bill signing.
Either way, Conan was honored at a Rose Garden ceremony for his role in taking down al-Baghdadi in an October raid on the terrorist’s compound in Syria.
Controversy erupted at the White House on Monday after officials had to issue a correction regarding the gender of Conan
Early reports from the administration said Conan, a Belgian Malinois, was a girl but the White House clarified Conan is a boy
Donald Trump was joined by Vice President Mike Pence and first lady Melania Trump in the Rose Garden to praise the dog, who was injured in the October raid.
In his remarks, President Trump repeatedly referred to the dog as a male.
‘I was told about the breed and I was told about Conan himself. Conan is a tough cookie. And nobody is going to mess with Conan,’ the president said.
That led to inquires about Conan’s actual gender.
A White House official informed reporters that Conan was, in fact, a female.
Less than two hours later, the correction arrived from the White House. Conan was actually male.
DailyMail.com has reached out to Conan for comment, via the Pentagon.
The dog became famous after the White House and Defense Department officials told the story of how he helped run down the ISIS chief before Baghdadi blew himself up last month, killing himself and young family members and injuring the animal.
Conan was flown in from the Middle East for the Oval Office meet and greet, in which the dog was presented with a certificate and medal that will go on display in the Oval Office.
Still on active duty, the dog will return to the Middle East, where U.S. forces are hunting ISIS terrorists.
The president pulled off the official ceremony after earlier retweeting a photo-shopped image of himself placing a medal on the dog amid fascination with Conan’s role. For the event to happen, the animal had to be moved from the war zone.
‘This is the ultimate fighter. Ultimate everything,’ Trump said.
‘It’s incredible, the sense of smell, or whatever it may be,’ Trump said of service dogs’ talent.
‘They were going to put a muzzle on the dog and I thought that was a good idea, but then it gets even more violent,’ Trump said.
The dog was a good boy during his appearance with the first couple. He did not bark or make any threatening actions but, instead, sat with his tongue out and tail wagging, taking in calmly the rows of photographers taking her photo and reporters shouting questions.
Trump called Conan a ‘tough cookie,’ while Pence tended to the Belgian Malinois’ softer side
Melania Trump then joined President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence in honoring Conan, the hero dog, seen with a handler
The president spoke at some length about the attributes of military service animals, while Vice President Mike Pence repeatedly patted the animal. First Lady Melania Trump stood alongside her husband during the brief ceremony, sporting a Dolce & Gabbana coat.
But it was Pence who got and gave the most puppy love during the ceremony. Pence repeatedly scratched Conan on the head while the president spoke. When Pence paused briefly to deliver his own remarks, Conan looked up at Pence for more petting.
‘Conan is really a hero,’ said Pence of the Belgian Malinois, a breed of animal also used by the Secret Service and general law enforcement for their keen sense of smell sniffing out explosives or drugs.
The dog responded favorably the the Indiana governor, who himself just flew back from Iraq after a brief pre-holiday visit. Conan wagged his tail and rubbed his head against the vice president’s hand, repeatedly using his head and nose to solicit more petting.
Trump used a range of adjectives to describe Conan, including ‘very, very special’; ‘incredible’; ‘so brilliant and so smart’; ‘extraordinary’; ‘tough cookie’ and ’the ultimate fighter, the ultimate everything.’
Trump said the Special Forces who worked with Conan did a ‘fantastic job,’ but said they couldn’t appear with the dog for ‘obvious’ reasons.
President Trump repeatedly referred to the dog as a male in his remarks
The White House said the dog was handled by a substitute on Monday as Conan’s normal handler took part in the al-Baghdadi raid and couldn’t be identified.
Gen. Frank McKenzie, who leads U.S. Central Command, told reporters the dog was injured when it came in contact with the cables as it pursued al-Baghdadi in a tunnel underneath a compound in northwestern Syria.
McKenzie said the dog has worked with special operations forces for four years and taken part in about 50 missions. He said such working dogs are ‘critical members of our forces.’