President Franklin Roosevelt owned a variety of dogs throughout his life, but when he was elected president he needed one that wouldn’t misbehave. In 1940, FDR’s cousin gave him a Scottish Terrier for Christmas. FDR named the dog Fala and he became instantly popular with everyone in the White House. A few weeks after Fala arrived, he got sick to his stomach. The White House staff had become so fond of him that everyone gave the little dog too much food. After that, FDR ordered that only he would feed Fala and the dog got better. In order to receive his food, Fala first had to do tricks like shaking hands and begging, but he didn’t seem to mind as long as his master was there.
Fala was the president’s nearly constant companion. He met with important world leaders and was present when FDR signed the Atlantic Charter, which outlined the aims England and the U.S. had for World War II. He attended press conferences and was trained to shake hands so he could welcome important people to the White House. In the evening he helped FDR entertain guests, or sometimes he napped. The dog even slept in the president’s bedroom at night.
Fala’s popularity was not limited to FDR and the White House staff, however. Photographers loved taking pictures of the Scottie. Fan mail regularly arrived for him from people all over the country. He received more letters and certainly more compliments than most presidents. A book about Fala was written for his adoring fans. In it, Fala expressed his disappointment that the Secret Service would not allow him to attend his master’s third inauguration. Though both were sad when FDR passed away, Fala quickly became First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt’s companion.