The Curious Incident of Mitt’s Dog on the Roof of His Car


Newt Gingrich’s campaign has a new web video entitled “For the Dogs” that includes a clip from an interview in which Mitt Romney discussed tying the family dog, an Irish setter named Seamus, to the roof of his white Chevy station wagon while driving to Canada for a family vacation in 1983. Gingrich’s campaign has so far said that, while the video is currently only on the web, it might still consider airing it on TV in advance of the South Carolina primary on January 21.

A 2007 Boston Globe article says that at the start of that 12-hour trek from Boston to Ontario, Seamus was placed in a dog carrier outfitted with a windshield. Seamus must have felt some discomfort and defecated. Romney’s response when one of his sons notified him was a “tiny preview of a trait he would grow famous for in business: emotion-free crisis management.” More from the June 2007 Boston Globe:

As the oldest son, Tagg Romney commandeered the way-back of the wagon, keeping his eyes fixed out the rear window, where he glimpsed the first sign of trouble. ”Dad!” he yelled. ”Gross!” A brown liquid was dripping down the back window, payback from an Irish setter who’d been riding on the roof in the wind for hours.

As the rest of the boys joined in the howls of disgust, Romney coolly pulled off the highway and into a service station. There, he borrowed a hose, washed down Seamus and the car, then hopped back onto the highway.

Speaking to Chris Wallace at Fox News, Romney described the carrier as a “completely airtight kennel” and said that Seamus was “comfortable” in it, to the point that “he climbed up there regularly, enjoyed himself. He was in a kennel at home a great deal of the time as well. We loved the dog.”

Seamus, who has passed away, cannot of course speak for himself. Two weeks after the Boston Globe article, Mitt Romney’s sister Jane provided a photo of the Irish setter with two cats and described him as a “social dog” who could be described as “Mr. Personality.” He had so many “dog friends” that he kept leaving the Romneys’ home and “ending up at the pound.” Some years after the infamous ride on the roof to Canada (which Jane said she did not know about until reading the Boston Globe‘s piece), Seamus was sent to live with her family in California, “so he could roam more freely.”

The incident has resurfaced, in Gingrich’s web video and elsewhere: One “Romney protester” in South Carolina recently tied a stuffed dog atop a dog carrier to the roof of his car, as seen in a photo by ABC’s Emily FriedmanNew York Times columnist Gail Collins has routinely mentioned Romney’s puzzling treatment of Seamus in her columns for many months. Here’s an example from October 19, 2011, in Collins’ column entitled “Mitt and Begonia-gate“:

“And the idea that you stand here before us and talk about — that you’re strong on immigration is, on its face, the height of hypocrisy,” Perry declaimed.

I found this very exciting because it brings us closer to the moment when one of Romney’s competitors will point out that he once drove to Canada with the family dog strapped on the roof of the car.

And then Romney will say: “Hey, he was in a crate!” Or: “He liked the fresh air!” It’ll be too late. Everybody else will whip out pictures of their pets and stories about how the cat rides in her own special chair in the back seat, or how the family deferred a trip to Aruba because the whippet was sick.

The moment has indeed come, with Gingrich’s “For the Dogs” video. Appropriately enough, the video ends with the rival candidate singing “Who Let the Dogs Out?”

“Our definition of must-see TV,” says the Los Angeles Times. For myself, I’m cringing at the thought, but not as much as I did when I heard about Romney tying his dog to the roof of his car and driving from Massachusetts to Canada. As Collins says in her latest column, Gingrich’s video “basically asks whether America will elect a president who once drove to Canada with the family dog strapped to the roof of the car. Which is, of course, an excellent question.”

Is it too much to ask, Mitt, what were you thinking?


Related Care2 Coverage

Romney Leads In South Carolina, Florida, and Perry Plummets

Anti-Romney Documentary “King Of Bain” Now Online

Romney A Favorite of the Koch Brothers


Photo of an Irish setter (the same breed as Seamus) by xiaofeng17


Billie L.
Billie Linder3 years ago

Okay - you just lost this animal lover!Re Mitt Romney's dog: You've just left the animal welfare arena, and jumped into politics! The welfare of an animal is of supreme importance - tossing a political dig, or opinion is NOT! I'm outta here! And won't have kind things to say about, and/or referrals to other animal lovers about this site!

Duane B.
.3 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

Terry V.
Terry V3 years ago


Patricia T.
Patricia T.4 years ago

There have been many times I would have preferred riding on the roof of a car than being a passenger in one. At least they didn't have their dog for supper.

Patricia T.
Patricia T.4 years ago

There have been many times I would have preferred riding on the roof of a car than being a passenger in one. At least they didn't have their dog for supper.

Matt L4 years ago

“The major defining feature of the Obama administration on this issue is the eagerness with which it embraced the stunning evisceration of civil rights and liberties that was a hallmark of the Bush administration, and then deepened those outrageous programs,” said Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, executive director of the Partnership for Civil Justice Fund, who is an attorney representing many Occupy protesters swept up in last fall’s mass arrests. “He has successfully counted on the acquiescent silence of the liberals.”

Matt L4 years ago

cont: Obama is a fine choice if you don't mind endless war, or an invasive government that uses terrorism as an excuse to trample all over our rights. Even if we don't have time to organize, we can at least vote on alternatives. They are on the ballot, and the main reason they are not "viable" is because people like you keep saying it. Though I agree we need to get out there and make 3rd parties more viable, or at least take back the Democratic Party from people like Obama. We don't need more mediocre leaders who simply support the status quo, while incrementally eroding what democracy we have left.

As far as being "armchair quarterbacks", you have a point, but it would help if the Obama administration didn't operate under a massive veil of secrecy. Just like with Bush, what does he have to hide?

Matt L4 years ago

Lee W. Well it would be pretty hard to do worse than Obama's predecessor, and indeed Obama has made some accomplishments, eliminating the pre-existing medical restrictions on health insurance, and plenty of other things.

However, legalizing the execution or permanent detainment of US citizens without trial or evidence is very bad, and even if Obama doesn't abuse it himself, future presidents likely will. He also extending the Patriot Act, as sent us military forces to 75 or more countries, has law enforcement harassing and spying on various peaceful activist groups. He has been protecting officials who engaged in torture. He has military drone planes bombing civilian targets in several countries, and has added even more to the federal debt than Bush did. The "secret' war in Yemen. The list goes on and on.

Matt L4 years ago

Heather, there are other options besides Ron Paul, Romney and Obama. Obama certainly lost any chance of my vote with his contempt for the Constitution, and for continuing so many of Bush's worst policies but there are 3rd party and independent candidates too. Jill Stein of the Green Party maybe. I'd even prefer Roseanne Barr to Obama or any of the GOP candidates.

Granted, I love Ron Paul's policy on ended the endless wars, but he's said some pretty questionable things about minorities and womens rights.

Of course Obama's probably will win, but it would be nice if some parties besides the Democrats and Republicans gained a little influence.

BMutiny TCorporationsEvil

Oh, wow, that this exploded after it came from GINGRICH -- the un-compassionate Pot calling the Kettle black!