Sunday, June 03, 2012
I am the grandson of the late Irish setter Seamus Romney, the same Seamus Romney who famously rode in a dog carrier on top of Mitt Romney’s station wagon during a twelve-hour vacation trip to Canada back in 1983.
Gramps always spoke highly of his master Mitt and not just because that’s who fed him. Although my grandfather Seamus often said, “Don’t bite the hand that feeds you”, I don’t think that meant he was holding back in any way on his opinion of Mr. Romney.
A lot of folks have made much of the station wagon incident and my grandfather’s twelve-hour ride atop the car to Ontario. I don’t think that criticism is fair. I got to hear my grandpa’s version of that event many times and not once did he condemn his master outright. As far as Seamus was concerned, it was a privilege to ride on top of the car.
A car, by the way, that was an American-made vehicle. An American-made vehicle, Seamus would often say, that was built by a strong, vibrant American car company that didn’t need, and would never accept, a government bailout.
Legend has it that, during that vacation trip, Seamus had a fear-induced “accident” while riding atop the Romney family station wagon. While my grandfather didn’t deny that this happened, he insisted that he wasn’t afraid. The simple explanation, according to him, was that, just before the trip, he snuck into the Romney pantry and ingested half-a-dozen licorice sticks and a bagful of prunes.
Grandpa Seamus praised Mr. Romney for stopping the car at a gas station and hosing down the crate for my grandfather’s benefit. He often cited that action as an apt metaphor for what he thought his master would be able to do for the whole country if ever elected President.
To hear my grandfather tell the story, Mr. Romney wasn’t a bad man. Seamus didn’t mind riding in the roof-mounted crate. “After all”, he repeatedly said, “Massa Romney wasn’t a cruel dog owner. He always meant well.”
What was cruel, according to Seamus, was having to spend time that summer vacation in Canada. My grandfather didn’t much care for that country and, until his dying day, blamed the healthcare system there for influencing his master and beguiling him into imposing a version of it on Massachusetts.
Some have commented on the fact that Mr. Romney eventually sent Seamus to live in his sister’s home in California. They say this illustrates the cold, unfeeling nature of the man.
But my grandfather never held a grudge about the move. Throughout the years, he was loyal to a fault. But I can’t help wondering if he might have preferred the lifestyle of that pampered Portuguese Water Dog named Bo who currently resides in The White House. Sadly, he’ll never know and it’s looking more and more likely that none of his descendants will either.