I am often asked why I write stories and words for young hairless monkeys (by that I mean you and your friends, Dear Reader). The reason is obvious: humans desperately need other animals’ help. Here’s one example of a super-hero dog, Murray the Outlaw of Falahill, whose actions not only helped save the world from Hitler, but have also helped stop some other wars.
President’s Dog; World’s Champion
Murray the Outlaw of Falahill (called “Fala” for short) was President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s (FDR) dog in the early 1940s. He was a Scottish terrier, named after one of FDR’s Scottish ancestors. Fala went everywhere with FDR; he slept in a special chair at the foot of the president’s bed and had breakfast with him every morning. He was in on nearly every meeting and every plan. When the president was tired and worn out, or feeling uncertain, Fala would cheer him up. He knew how to keep the president going.
In the early 1930s, Adolf Hitler became chancellor of Germany. He made fiery speeches. He made the German army bigger and bigger. By the late 1930s he was taking over other countries in Europe and mistreating (and much worse) thousands and thousands of good people. He is widely known as one of the great villains of history. Nobody seemed able to stop him. World War II had begun. The Danes resisted him by not doing what he said and tending to their gardens. Very good work, and important (I can tell you, the bees really appreciated it), but it did not threaten Hitler. All over Europe people were trying to resist–and of course many of the animals, myself included–but not enough of the hairless monkey leaders put up much of a fight. Hitler made alliances with some other nasty leaders to form the Axis powers. It began to look like he might be able to take over the world.
The Prime Minister of England, Winston Churchill, said that Hitler had to be stopped. Churchill looked like a bulldog and that is very high praise indeed. In the United States, President Roosevelt was trying to trick Hitler. Roosevelt kept saying that he wanted to stay out of the war–but secretly he was talking with Churchill about how America might help. In August, he said he was going fishing up north. He took Fala with him.
FDR’s boat went to Newfoundland (as this Crow flies, that’s part of Canada, on the eastern side of the country; I like its fog and its fish; its also a great place to have meetings with my whale friends). Winston Churchill secretly met him there, after sailing over from England.
Churchill came aboard the president’s big fishing boat. Fala knew Winston, and gave him a smile (Fala really did know how to smile like a human; it was one of his best tricks), and Churchill was glad to see him. The meeting was off to a good start. Churchill and FDR sat down to talk about how America could help England beat Hitler. Fala joined them.
Now you won’t find this in any history books, because hairless monkeys write the history books and give very little credit to other animals (did you know that wolf cubs founded the city of Rome? Or that the Beluga whale uprising of 1812 influenced the War of 1812?) But Fala told me what really happened. And dogs are honest animals, as everyone knows.
FDR and Churchill talked about how to resist Hitler, but Fala the Outlaw knew that if they really wanted to succeed they would need not only to get everyone to agree that beating Hitler and the Axis powers would remove a villain from the world stage, but that victory would bring in a much better period in history. They had to make promises about how things would be better for everyone after the war. So as FDR and Churchill talked about the war, every time they mentioned what would follow the war, Fala licked them and did a trick. Pretty soon the two men were talking more and more about all the good things that would follow the war. Eventually they created what was called the Atlantic Charter. “My idea,” Fala told me. “But they changed some bits. I thought they should take away everyone’s guns and respect every nation’s territory–including the nations of elk and whales and the rest of us. Hey, I tried. But at least they said they’d take away all the Axis powers’ guns and respect all human countries. And they came up with this line about ‘freedom from want and from fear’ and I like that bit a lot. Not that I’m ever afraid.” He showed me his teeth and gave a Scottish growl to prove it.
Churchill and FDR made their deal and announced it to the world. Other countries joined them in facing off against Hitler and the Axis powers. Within a few years, Hitler was defeated. The Atlantic Charter became one of the main bases for the United Nations charter–and as you know, the United Nations helps hungry and sick people and tries to stop wars from getting started, even now.
By helping FDR and “suggesting” the Atlantic Charter, Fala may have saved the world. He’s a superhero. In another story, I’ll tell you how he helped us win the war.
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Do you know about any animal superheroes? Share your stories here, and for more about animal heroes, keep coming back here and read my Lazy Hero Cat and Pet Shop Heroes books.