Tuesday, February 22, 2011

More FDR First Dogs

Yesterday I told you about Fala, who was President Roosevelt's special, most favorite dog, but Fala wasn't the only dog who lived in the White House when Mr. Roosevelt was president.  During the 12 years while he was in office, the family had 11 First Dogs.  And this seemed to be on account of the fact that all the Roosevelts liked dogs, which I think is a very good thing in a First Family.

The Roosevelt family was really big.
There are two dogs in this photo.  I think
they are both Scotties.
Elliott Roosevelt had a bull mastiff named Blaze.  One day when he got locked in the library, Blaze chewed up all the towels.  I don't know why there were towels in a library.  I am only telling you what I read about this dog.  When Elliott moved out to be on his own, he took Blaze with him.

The Roosevelts' daughter, Anna, who was married, had two red setters named Jack and Jill.  But then when she was getting a divorce, she sent her dogs to the White House to live with her parents.  And later on, after she got married again, she ended up sending her retriever, Ensign, to the White House, too.  Ensign was a good retriever, and was famous for retrieving every single thing that could possibly be retrieved.

Sistie and Buzzie, two of the Roosevelts' grandchildren, brought their bulldog, Pal to the White House when they were staying there.  But Pal got really stressed out because of all the other dogs around, and he threw himself into an empty fountain.  Maybe he was trying to kill himself, but I guess it didn't work.

A reporter set this this up to take a picture
of Winks eating a plate of eggs and bacon.

Winks was a Llewellin setter who came from Warm Springs, Georgia, where the president had his spa.  One morning at the White House, when there was a breakfast of eggs and bacon set out for 18 people, Winks got there first and gobbled up the food off of all 18 plates.  President Roosevelt said that the only reason Winks didn't also drink the coffee was because it hadn't been poured yet.

Sadly, Winks, who was always kind of wild and crazy, ran right into a White House fence one day and broke his neck.  He was buried with full honors in the Rosedale Dog Cemetery in Maryland.

Mrs. Roosevelt had a Scottish terrier named Meggie who liked to chase the White House maids.  And one time she bit a reporter named Bess Furman right on the nose.

Meggie and Major
Major, who was President Roosevelt's German Shepherd, also chased the maids, and they had to use brooms and mops to keep him away from them.  Then one time Major ripped the trousers of the British Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald.  This was right when the Germans were getting nasty and aggressive and were about to attack Britain.  So it wasn't good that a German type of dog was biting the pants leg of an important British official.

And then another time Major bit someone's hand when the person reached through the fence to pet him, which was a dumb thing for that person to do, but people don't expect to get bitten by one of the First Dogs.  So anyway, that's why Major had to go live at Hyde Park after that.

But President Roosevelt also had a Great Dane named President who made up for Major's bad behavior by greeting the King and Queen of England in a very nice, tail-wagging way when they came for a visit.

Another dog that went away to live at Hyde Park was Tiny Tim, who was a big, klutzy sheepdog.  He didn't bite anybody, but the president decided there were too many dogs with bad manners in the White House, so that's why he sent most of them away.

And just when he didn't really have any dogs around to worry about anymore, that's when the president's cousin gave him Fala.  And like I told you yesterday, Fala turned out to be the most famous First Dog of all.


  1. I remember seeing pictures of Fala in the newspapers and on the news reels when I was a little kid. I don't remember seeing any of the other dogs though. When President Roosevelt died, there were lots of pictures of him in the news paper. But I distinctly recall there was also a big picture of Fala. I rally am getting old!
    Aunt Lynn

  2. Dear Aunt Lynn,
    Wow! You are even older than my mom, and she's pretty darned old! Hahaha! I think Fala hogged all the publicity about FDR's dogs, so nobody knew about the other ones. I mostly only found out about them by reading my "First Dogs" book because the only one the internet talks about is Fala.
    Your friend, Piper