Kerry and his pooch Ben unleash the press

John Kerry's dog lies beside him as he gives his final State Department press conference.

(CNN)Outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry made a surprise appearance in the State Department briefing room Thursday, bringing along a special guest: his dog Ben.

Ben was met with a flurry of excitement from reporters, many of whom reached for their smartphones to snap pictures as Kerry cajoled him into sitting still.
"He's gotten really good," said Kerry, joking, "he's actually getting disciplined."
Benjamin F. Kerry has become fixture at the State Department, often accompanying his owner to work. He even has his own Twitter account (@DiploMutt), with over 3,000 followers.
    John Kerry and his dog at his final State Department press conference.
    The yellow lab, who is three years old, quickly settled down next to his master, while the latter offered closing remarks to the press corps.
    Kerry thanked senior members of his public affairs team and the assembled journalists, many of whom have covered him throughout his four-year tenure as the nation's top diplomat.
    He also used the opportunity to emphasize the importance of a credible press in an era where "fake news" has rampant.
    "It is more important today than ... at any time that I've been in public life, that the press be empowered and legitimized," said Kerry, noting the presence of individuals and governments "who spend a fair amount of time trying to abuse the power of the press and not be factual."
    The free press, Kerry continued, is also "being put to test by some folks in the political world who want to use it to discredit."
    "That's not going to serve America's values and interests in the long run at all," he added.
    From the press room, Kerry wandered down the hall to address several hundred enthusiastic staffers gathered in the building's ceremonial lobby and reminisce about his four decades of public service.
    Kerry was joined there by Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Tom Shannon, who will run the day-to-day operations of the State Department until Kerry's successor is confirmed.