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Presidential Pet Activity

Pets bring us comfort and help us cope in difficult times, they also teach us about empathy and responsibility.

Research, Current Events, Writing

Elementary, Middle and High School

30-60 minutes

Paper, pencil, colored pencils or crayons, computer

To explore how pets bring us comfort and help us cope in difficult times and how they teach us about empathy and responsibility.

Post a picture of your work to social media with the hashtag #fdractivities

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Historic Context

It is sometimes said that there are two kinds of people in the world: cat people and dog people. FDR was a dog person. He loved dogs and had several of them throughout his life, but the one he loved the best, was his little Scottie Terrier, Fala. Fala – his full name was Fala the Outlaw of Murray Hill – was given to FDR as a gift by his cousin Daisy Suckley. Fala lived with Daisy as a young pup and she taught him how to obey commands, behave around important people, and to do some simple tricks like sitting up and rolling over. When Fala had successfully learned all his lessons he went to live with FDR in the White House and at Hyde Park. The two were seldom separated from that point on.

Fala became quite the celebrity as the Presidential Pet. He had articles written about him, his picture appeared in the newspapers and he received fan mail from people and pets from all around the world. Fala was a true friend to FDR and helped him take his mind off the huge problems – the Great Depression and World War II – that Roosevelt faced as President. This was an important job for Fala because when you are president, everyone who comes through your door wants you to use your power and influence as president to do something for them. All Fala ever wanted was a rub on the tummy and to play. Taking time to do that was as important for FDR as it was for Fala.


1. Take a moment to sit down and really think about your pet(s).

2. Write down your pet(s) name. What type of pet(s) do you have?

3. Write two or three sentences about why you love your pet?

4. What is your pet(s) favorite thing to do?

5. Write a story about something funny or unusual about your pet.

6. Draw a picture of you and your pet doing something you love to do together.

7. Think about, and write down, three times you were sad, mad or frightened and your pet

made you feel better.

8. If your pet(s) could talk to you, what do you think he/she would say?

9. What question(s) would you ask your pet(s)?


1. Write down three things you have learned by having a pet(s).

2. Why do you think pets are so important for elderly people or people who live alone?

3. What is the most unusual type of pet you would consider having?

4. Why do you suppose some people love dogs so much while others love cats so much?

5. Did you ever notice that sometimes people look like their pets?

A Step Beyond:

1. Do a google search for presidential pets to see what other animals have lived in the White House.

2. Do a google search to find out more about FDR and Fala.

3. See if your library or bookstore has a copy of Fala’s biography called, The True Story of Fala by Daisy Suckley.

4. Do a google search about the benefits of being a pet owner.

5. Find out how you can help animals in your area who might be looking for a loving family to call their own.