Courtesy of the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum
BORN: April 7, 1940
DIED: April 5, 1952, and was buried in the Rose Garden next to the sun dial near his master on April 7, 1952
Given to the President by Mrs. Augustus G. Kellog of Westport, Connecticut through Franklin Roosevelt's cousin, Margaret "Daisy" Suckley. At first his name was Big Boy. Franklin renamed him Murray the Outlaw of Falahill after a Scottish ancestor. His nickname became Fala. Before Fala went to the White House, Daisy taught Fala how to behave and do tricks. He could sit up, rollover, and jump. Fala went to live in the White House in Washington, DC on November 10, 1940. He spent most of his time there. However, time was also spent at the houses in Hyde Park and Warm Springs, Georgia. At Hyde Park, Fala rode in FDR's Ford, which FDR drove with special hand controls because of his paralysis from polio.
Fala had a bone every morning brought up on the President's breakfast tray. Fala got a full dinner every night. During the day, Fala would beg for food from the White House staff. He was so cute that he was fed all the time and became sick. The staff was asked not to feed him extra food. At night, he slept in a special chair at the foot of the President's bed. Fala traveled with the President on long and short trips by train, car, or boat.
He , of course, met many famous visitors and entertained them with his tricks. He could even curl his lip into a smile for them. Here are some trips and people that he met.
In August 1941, Fala was at the Atlantic Charter Conference in Placentia Bay, Newfoundland with the President and Prime Minister Winston Churchill of England.
In September 1942 and April 1943, Fala went on inspection trips of defense plants and visited Monterey, Mexico and President Camacho.
In August 1943 and September 1944 he went to the Quebec Conferences.
In 1944, Fala was with the President on a sea trip to the Aleutian Islands. Rumors spread that Fala was accidentally left on one of the islands. During the 1944 presidential campaign, the Republicans accused him of spending millions of taxpayers' dollars in sending a destroyer back for him. The President answered the attack in his famous Fala speech while talking to the Teamsters Union. Roosevelt defended his Scottie, saying, that he, Roosevelt, expected such criticism aimed at himself, and that even his family expected negative talk about themselves. However, Fala had not been the same. Since the charge was made: "His Scotch soul was furious."
There was another incident on a sea trip aboard the ship Tuscalosa in the West Indies. It was a hot day. The sailors were trying to cool off. They were lying on the deck stretched out in a row. Their bare feet were lined up. Fala caused quite a commotion by moving quickly along the row licking and tickling their feet.
And yet another time, Fala was with the President on a fishing trip to Florida. As the fish were caught, they were thrown in a pile on the deck. Quite a pile accumulated. They were all flip-flopping in the air as fish do. Fala began to flip-flop, too. It was such a fun game that he did it for several days.
In April of 1945, President Roosevelt died in Warm Springs, Georgia. Fala attended the funeral. He went to live with Mrs. Roosevelt at Val-Kill. He never really adjusted to the loss of his master. Even so, Val-Kill was in the country. It was a great place to run, play, chase squirrels, and even cats sometimes. She brought his grandson, Tamas McFala to live at Val-Kill, too, and be Fala's playmate. Sometimes they would run off together and get into trouble. They came home hours later covered with burrs and mud. By the end of such a busy day, he was an exhausted dog. Sometimes he slept on his back with his feet in the air.
He was so popular that he received thousands of letters from people. He even needed to have a secretary appointed to him to answer his mail. One letter dated August 5, 1947, was from a poodle named Abigail. Fala chased a skunk once, which was very unpleasant for everyone. The poodle scolded Fala for not acting with more intelligence and dignity. Abigail hoped that Fala would never, ever let that unfortunate incident be repeated.
In 1942, a movie was made about Fala and his life in Hyde Park. Children and other visitors who come to the Roosevelt Museum and Library in Hyde Park, New York still enjoy watching it today.
Fala is probably the only president pet to be memorialized in statuary. A statue of Fala stands next to one of his master at the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial in Washington D.C.