In the 20th century, presidential pets began to capture the hearts of the American public, perhaps none more popular than first dog Fala, President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s beloved Scottish Terrier who moved to the White House in 1940. As a key part of FDR’s public image, Fala followed the president everywhere, including meetings with foreign heads of state (whom he was known to delight with his tricks). His international adventures were widely reported in the media. Fala soon needed a secretary to handle the thousands of letters from fans.
On September 23, 1944, FDR delivered his famous “Fala speech” in which he quipped, “You know, Fala is Scotch, and being a Scottie, as soon as he learned that the Republican fiction writers – in Congress and out – had concocted a story that I’d left him behind on an Aleutian island and had sent a destroyer back to find him – at a cost to the taxpayers of two or three, or eight or 20 million dollars – his Scotch soul was furious. He has not been the same dog since.”
When FDR died in 1945, Fala went to live at the family home with Eleanor Roosevelt. According to the widowed Roosevelt, Fala would constantly lie near the door and await his master’s return. When Fala died seven years later, he was buried alongside FDR and became the only presidential pet to be memorialized in statue.
For a more complete history of the White House’s Presidential pets, visit Petcentric.