April 7, 1940 to April 5, 1952
Fala exhibit at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, Hyde Park, NY.
Gimlet: Hot dogs! Come and get yer New York hot dogs!
Nigel: I love hot dogs. What better day to enjoy a hot dog, too? It's practically a National Dog Holiday. It's the anniversary of Fala Roosevelt's birth, after all.
Gimlet: And we get to chat with Fala again. The last time we spoke with him was in 2003, and we'd just begun Mr. Doodles Dog. He was very obliging with the séance.
Nigel: Now that I've actually met Fala and we've become friends, he's joined our staff. He's part of our, shall we say, "celestial bureau."
Fala: Nigel, I'm officially in the Department Of Growls and act as a "human communicator." I'm sure that's someone's idea of a bureaucratic joke, but I happen to think it's funny. Love those acronyms.
Gimlet: Happy Birthday, Fala. It's number 68, right?
Fala: It is. It's also the date of my burial. I'm buried behind Franklin at his home in Hyde Park. It's his presidential library and museum now. Wish you could see my grave in that photo ... I'm near a sundial. That's the opposite of my place in life, though. I usually ran ahead of him and let people know the President was coming through. The Secret Service had a special name for me because of that: The Informer.
Fala's grave, near the sundial in front of FDR's and Eleanor's memorial in The Rose Garden at Springwood, Hyde Park, NY. Photo used by the kind permission of Grant & Kilgallen Photography.
Nigel: Your obituary ran in the New York Times. That's heady stuff for any dog. The headline for April 6, 1952 read: "Fala 'Sleeps' Away; Was Roosevelt's Pet."
Fala: Well, he was my pet, too. I missed him terribly. I mourned him the rest of my earthly life. Dogs mourn, as you know.
Gimlet: We know.
Fala: Of course, now we tool around in his Ford convertible all the time. We're always driving around the Roosevelt land in Hyde Park, from Springwood to Top Cottage and just everywhere. A lot of people think he's a terrible driver and I am one of the few who love to get in the car with him. We picnic a lot, too. It's always hot dogs for him, and cocktails, cocktails... what a guy.
Nigel: Remind me to show you around my liquor cabinet, Fala. I have a private gin collection, you know.
Fala: I heard. The President liked to tell people that I had "scotch" in my veins. What a guy. Go here to see a short movie of the President and me at play.
Gimlet: Oh, what a grand life you had for a Scottish Terrier. And you're still having it.
Fala: The President laughed and laughed when I told him I was working for Mr. Doodles Dog. He's a fan. He says he wishes he could have used you to help him boost morale during The Great Depression and World War II. He's always been one for trying out new things. He loves the Internet.
FDR and Fala taking a spin in FDR's 1936 Ford Phaeton, equipped with special hand controls. Hyde Park, NY., October, 1944.
Nigel: What do you want for your birthday, Fala?
Fala: I'd like to be remembered. Would someone put flowers on my grave in the Rose Garden at Hyde Park? You know what else? I'd love it if the folks at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum would institute a special celebration of my birthday. They have one for The President every January 30 and for Eleanor on October 11. How about one for me every April 7? FDR would be very pleased if Cynthia and Lynn, as well as Cliff and the crew arranged an annual celebration for children to come to the Library and learn more about me and my place in The President's life. There could be dog-related events and some Scottie-shaped cakes ... dog treats, too. I would love for people to realize that The President did a great deal to help people understand that dogs have a contribution to make to our country. I was the inspiration for one of his most famous speeches, you know. You can read a bit about that on my official biography.
Gimlet: Fala, we can't make it to Hyde Park for your birthday. We're in Florida. But .. we're having hot dogs and cocktails in your honor. We've also set up a small shrine to you in our editorial offices. We have the photo of you and FDR driving, a copy of "The True Story of Fala" by Margaret Suckley and Alice Dalgleish and of course "Closest Companion" by Margaret Suckley and "No Ordinary Time" by Doris Kearns Goodwin. Not to mention one of Nigel's gin bottles...
Fala: Thanks for helping me celebrate my birthday. I'll take the day off, but then I'll be back researching a post for Mr. Doodles Dog. The President says he'll help me. He threw back his head and roared with laughter when I told him we'd be exposing nuts and charlatans through a series of posts on a dog blog.
Nigel: Happy Birthday, Fala. Here's a photo Joe the Cat took on a visit to FDR's Top Cottage in Hyde Park last October. This is a view from the front porch. It was a gorgeous day, and aren't you lucky to have had so many of them.
Editor's note: Extentive research on this post was contributed by Smitty Grant, a wire fox terrier, and Jessie Kilgallen, a cocker spaniel. The pair are frequent visitors to the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum in Hyde Park, NY. Our thanks to Mr. Grant and Miss Kilgallen.