Today marks the 71st anniversary of the birth of Fala the Scottish Terrier who belonged to our countries 32nd president, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and who was perhaps the most popular presidential pet in our nations history. Fala is the only presidential pet to be honored with a prominent spot in a Washington memorial:
Its not suprising Fala is featured prominently in the memorial when you realize how important his role was in the President's life, both in the public and private arena. Roosevelt often talked about Fala in his famous fireside chats and the dog was regularly photographed with the President and traveled extensively with him. On September 23, 1944 Roosevelt made a famous speech in which he responded to Republican charges that he had accidentally left Fala on the Aleutian Island and then had him rescued for an exorbitant cost. Here is the youtube clip of the speech:
The speech was such a success that the Republican's attempts to discredit Roosevelt by criticizing his devotion to Fala backfired and the whole thing wound up making him more popular.
Fala survived the president and even attended his funeral on April 14, 1945.
Eleanore Roosevelt said Fala never really got over the president's death and when the dog died in 1952 at the age of 11 he was buried in their rose garden at their home in Springwood.
|Picture of Fala's grave|
Due in large part to Fala, Scottish Terriers where one of the most popular breeds in the US in the 1940s and 1950s. Today there popularity has declined and they rank number 52 according to AKC dog registration statistics.
The Scottie is nicknamed "die hard" for their terrier feistieness. The Scottish Terrier Club of America notes their strong will, prey drive and independence and their need for regular exercise along with their playfulness and loyalty to family. There are a number of Scottish Terrier breed rescue groups, here is a link to one on the east coast http://www.stcgny.org/rescue.html.
Today, some people say that to be President in this country you need to have a dog in order to embody the all American image voters look for. Some naysayers declared that President Obama's acquisition of Bo was nothing but a publicity ploy. Though personally I think Bo looks pretty loved and happy (just look at the picture below from the Baltimore Sun) and is likely unaware of and untroubled by his role as an image booster for the President .
It is true that dogs are far and away the most popular Presidential pet. This list of Presidential pets on Wikipedia shows that 34 out of 44 President's have owned dogs and these dogs have certainly softened images over the years, Fala included. However, its also obvious that FDR generally cared for Fala and got something from his relationship with the Scottie beyond benefiting from his media appeal. After all as President Truman said" "If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog." So happy birthday to Fala- A genuinely patriotic hound!