President Franklin Roosevelt’s beloved dog, Fala, is one of the first animals that comes to mind when many Americans think of presidential pets.
Considering our 32nd president held the office for 12 years, however, it should come as no surprise that there were other pets in the FDR White House — the Roosevelt family had several “First Dogs.”
Before Fala, one of FDR’s favorites was a Llewellin setter, a purebred strain of the English setter, who was named Winks for the black ring around his left eye.
The Roosevelt family bought Winks in late December 1933 in Warm Springs, Georgia, the home of what was called the “Little White House.”
The President, who had polio, frequently spent time in Warm Springs to take advantage of the therapeutic waters there.
Bacon and Eggs
Many of the Roosevelt dogs had a bit of a mischievous streak in them, and Winks was no exception.
According to an account published in the Feb. 27, 1934 edition of the Pittsburgh Press, Winks discovered an unattended table in the White House that was filled with breakfast food. The puppy went from plate to plate, gobbling up the breakfast of bacon and eggs that had been prepared for 18 people!
Commenting on the puppy’s appetite, FDR slyly observed, “The only reason he didn’t drink the coffee was that it had not yet been poured.”
Although Winks surely had a stomach ache after that episode, it was another lapse of judgment a few months later that was his undoing. In July 1934, the Lewiston (Maine) Evening Journal reported:
“The sportive Winks, President Roosevelt’s setter, crashed into a fence on the White House grounds yesterday, thinking perhaps the iron was softer than his head. He died of a concussion.”
Winks was buried at a pet cemetery in Silver Spring, Maryland.