“Millie was a joy to us in the White House,” said First Lady Barbara Bush of the family’s English Springer Spaniel. She helped to give George Bush Senior’s presidency a sense of family. In fact, Millie had her own family of puppies while living at the White House. A cage was set up in the East Room for tourists to see the puppies. President Bush took time out to play with the puppies, rolling around on the White House lawn with them.
Millie and her puppies also entertained the president’s guests. He took every delegation, foreign, congressional, etc. to see the puppies. Millie and one of her sons, Ranger, even welcomed Russian President Boris Yeltsin.
When Barbara Bush needed help raising money for her literacy foundation, Millie was glad to assist. In Millie’s Book, as the book jacket claimed, Millie dictated her White House experiences to Barbara. “I often sit in on the morning briefings,” Millie said. She also bragged about the opportunity to meet important people like journalist Diane Sawyer, preacher Billy Graham, and the President of France. Of course, there were times when even a famous dog wanted to be like other dogs. Millie admitted, “I sometimes want to go out and hunt for squirrels.” Millie’s Book made over one million dollars for the literacy foundation.
Even though she was a celebrity, Millie eventually had to give up her position as White House dog when her master lost to Bill Clinton. Still, she stood proudly by her family as they greeted the Clintons on the White House porch. Eventually Millie’s daughter, Spot, would return to the White House as the second George Bush’s presidential dog.
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.