Did the Romney Family Dog Flee to Canada in Fear?

Slate's Culture Blog
Feb. 16 2012 11:05 AM

Did the Romney Family Dog Flee to Canada?

137661561
Mitt Romney is sniffed by a small dog while greeting supporters at a campaign event in front of a foreclosed home January 24, 2012 in Lehigh Acres, Florida.

Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Paging Gail Collins: the shameful tale of Seamus, Mitt Romney’s Irish setter—whom the candidate stuck in a crate and strapped to the roof of his car on a 12 hour ride to Canada—may have ended with a stroke of poetic justice. According to a piece on Politicker yesterday, Romney’s sons told reporters in an off-record conversation that the dog ran away when the family got to Ontario. Such a revelation, if true, gives the lie to Romney’s now nearly five-year-old claim that Seamus liked riding on top of the station wagon. (“He scrambled up there every time we went on trips,” the governor insisted. “He got it all by himself and enjoyed it.” To which we say: That is either one small station wagon or one very athletic dog).

Others have already disputed the idea that Seamus appreciated his wind-blown tours atop the family car. The 2007 Globe story describing the 1983 event recounted how Romney’s son at one point saw “a brown liquid … dripping down the back window, payback from an Irish setter who’d been riding on the roof in the wind for hours.” That Seamus suffered from diarrhea during the trip was taken as evidence that he and his owner disagreed about the wisdom of the travel arrangement. Earlier this week, an anti-Romney protest was held outside the Westminster dog show. And, in a Dan Savage-like move, Google users recently conspired to transform Romney’s name into a verb meaning “to defecate in fear.”

Advertisement

Is that fair, though? Do we know that Seamus defecated because he was afraid? We called a veterinarian and asked if it were possible that the dog just pooped because it needed to, without all the Sturm and Drang. Dr. Rawstrom of the MacArthur Animal Hospital in D.C. set us straight. “Dogs try to be clean, hygienic animals,” she said. “They prefer clean environments; that’s why one principle of crate training is to give them a space large enough to move around in but small enough that they don’t want to defecate inside.” Most housetrained (and healthy) dogs, she continued, will not poop on themselves. While Seamus could have “gone” out of desperation rather than fear, his runny stool indicates that he was experiencing high levels of stress. So, no, it’s not likely that the Irish setter was merely and unproblematically expressing his animal nature.

All this speculation may be moot, however, if Seamus voted with his feet and fled the premises. Mitt’s wife Ann has reassured everyone that the dog “lived to a ripe old age, basking in the affection of a large family.” We like to think he spent his golden years in Canada, an outlaw, never setting foot in or on or even near an automobile again.

Katy Waldman is a Slate staff writer. 

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS

But the next president might. 

IOS 8 Comes Out Today. Do Not Put It on Your iPhone 4S.

Why Greenland’s “Dark Snow” Should Worry You

How Much Should You Loathe NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell?

Here are the facts.

Three Talented Actresses in Three Terrible New Shows

Science

The Human Need to Find Connections in Everything

It’s the source of creativity and delusions. It can harm us more than it helps us.

Foreigners

More Than Scottish Pride

Scotland’s referendum isn’t about nationalism. It’s about a system that failed, and a new generation looking to take a chance on itself. 

The Ungodly Horror of Having a Bug Crawl Into Your Ear and Scratch Away at Your Eardrum

We Could Fix Climate Change for Free. What Exactly Is Holding Us Back?

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 17 2014 5:21 PM Don’t Worry, Obama Isn’t Sending U.S. Troops to Fight ISIS But the next president might. 
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 17 2014 1:36 PM Nate Silver Versus Princeton Professor: Who Has the Right Models?
  Life
Gentleman Scholar
Sept. 17 2014 5:10 PM Should Men Still Open Doors for Women? Or is it ungentlemanly to do so at all?  
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 17 2014 4:36 PM Is Nonfiction the Patriarch of Literary Genres?
  Slate Plus
Slate Fare
Sept. 17 2014 9:37 AM Is Slate Too Liberal?  A members-only open thread.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 17 2014 5:56 PM Watch Louis C.K., Dave Chappelle, Bill Hicks, Mitch Hedberg, and More on New YouTube Channel
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 17 2014 5:26 PM If Fixing Global Warming Is Free, What’s the Holdup?
  Health & Science
Jurisprudence
Sept. 17 2014 4:49 PM Schooling the Supreme Court on Rap Music Is it art or a true threat of violence?
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 17 2014 3:51 PM NFL Jerk Watch: Roger Goodell How much should you loathe the pro football commissioner?