Wednesday, September 23, 2015


JFK+50:  Volume 5, No. 1722


Washington, D.C. (JFK+50) Seventy-one years ago today, September 23, 1944, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, speaking to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters here in the nation's capital, defended his "little dog Fala*" against recent Republican attacks.

FDR said... 

"These Republican leaders have not been content with attacks on me, or my wife, or my sons. No, not content with that, they now include my little dog Fala. Well, of course, I don't resent attacks, and my family don't resent attacks, but Fala does resent attacks." 

After the laughter died down, the President continued...

"I am accustomed to hearing malicious falsehoods about myself, but I think I have a right to object to libelous statements about my dog."

Republicans had circulated a story that FDR had unintentionally left Fala in the Aleutian Islands while on a visit there and sent a Navy destroyer, at taxpayer's expense, to retrieve him.

FDR went on to say that his Republican opponents were just trying to distract voters from the real issues facing the country in 1944.  FDR added...

"You know, Fala is Scotch, and being a Scottie, as soon as he learned that Republican fiction writers in Congress...had concocted (this) story...his Scottish soul was furious."

With their presidential candidates having been defeated in landslides by FDR in 1932, 1936 and 1940, perhaps the only hope the Republicans had for the Election of 1944 was to go after Fala.   If that was their plan, it didn't work. FDR and his little dog were returned to the White House for a fourth term.

President Roosevelt's  little black Scottish terrier named "Fala" sits by his master's side at the FDR Memorial in Washington, D.C.  Many young visitors get their pictures made with Fala rather than FDR.

*Fala (1940-1952), the only presidential pet to be honored by statues, one in Washington, D.C. and the other in San Juan, Puerto Rico, was a gift to FDR from his cousin, Daisy Suckley, who taught the Scottish Terrier how to sit, roll over and jump.

Originally named Big Boy, FDR renamed him after "Murray the Outlaw of Falahill," a famous Scottish ancestor.

FDR issued an "executive order" that only he would feed Fala after he discovered the dog's intestinal problems were caused from being overfed in the White House kitchen. 

After FDR's death in 1945, Eleanor took over custody of Fala who survived until a few days before his 12th birthday.  But as Eleanor wrote in her "My Day Column," Fala was never the same dog after his master died.

"Fala's Leather Collar
National Park Service Photo

FDR Memorial
Washington, D.C.
 Photo by John White
July 14, 2003

FDR Memorial
Washington, D.C.
Photo by John White