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SCOT LEHIGH

Romney's in the doghouse with some voters

FOR THE LAST few mornings, I've lingered over the breakfast table, reading all about Mitt Romney, from his Michigan boyhood to his boffo business career to his determined days as chief of the 2002 Winter Olympics.

And what do I come away thinking?

One: Poor Seamus Romney.

And: Does a vacuum periodically settle in between the ears of the Mighty Mighty Mittster, rather like one of those low-pressure areas that sometimes stalls for days on end over New England?

Seamus was the Romneys' former mutt -- ah, actually, make that a distinguished canine gentleman of Irish extraction -- who, we learned on Wednesday, found himself ignominiously placed in a carrier atop the family station wagon back in 1983 as the Romneys embarked on a 12-hour drive to a vacation home Mitt's parents had on Lake Huron.

Now, Mitt had apparently rigged up some sort of windshield for the carrier. And the trip was made during the summer, so I suppose it's not exactly the equivalent of the long frosty December ride in an open carriage that supposedly nosed Beethoven toward his final decline.

Still, the treatment of loyal old Seamus struck me as a rum thing indeed, as Bertie Wooster might say.

It seems to have struck Seamus even more viscerally, at least from what one infers from our account of his not-so-excellent adventure. At some point, the unfortunate fellow evidently developed gastrointestinal distress, which made itself manifest in a plume of brown liquid leaching down over the back window.

And who, really, can blame Seamus, riding up there alone and forgotten, eyeing each approaching overpass and anxiously wondering if Mitt had calculated the clearances correctly, while the rest of the Romneys were safely ensconced in the vehicle below, no doubt whiling away the hours with joyous renditions of "This land is your land, this land is my land"?

I'm not a dog owner, so I can't say with certainty what the right answer would have been here, but somehow I suspect that if the question of what to do with Seamus was presented as a Harvard Business School case study, the remedy Mitt arrived at would not be widely seized upon as the most intelligent choice.

Several alternatives present themselves. I have heard that it's possible to pay to board one's dog at bed-and-breakfast-like establishments generically referred to as "the kennel." Or even, if one has the means, to engage what is known as a "dog sitter."

If the rooftop ride really was such a smart solution, at the very least Mitt could have taken a turn up there himself. Certainly he's proved resolute in the face of risk, at least in the business world, and I have it on good report that the hair product he uses is guaranteed to hold fast in gusts of up to 70 miles an hour.

The story made me wonder a little about the rest of the Romneys as well. The Globe series has recounted how a precocious (and seemingly pesky) young Mittster was forever injecting himself into his father's business or political deliberations, asking George Romney if he had considered this or thought of that.

Myself, I'd like to think that at some point during the trip, Tagg or Matt would have displayed enough of that brash iconoclasm to pipe up and inquire: "Say, Dad, do you hear that howling? Have you considered that Seamus may not be enjoying himself up there on top of the car?"

Still, the whole incident did answer one question for me. Reading another Globe profile of Mitt back in 1994, I learned that one of the Romney family's 1980s routines had been to gather in Mitt and Ann's bedroom each night to say their prayers together. Another family dog from that era, a yellow Labrador named McKenzie, would join them, putting her paws up on the bed in mock prayer, Ann told the Globe.

What was McKenzie praying for?

A flea collar? No, not a dog of her preppy pedigree.

Perhaps as simple a blessing as a pat on the head from Ann?

Or maybe just a delicious dog biscuit before bed?

It has long been a mystery, but now I think I know.

"Please, please, please, oh Lord, render my master too busy with business to take a vacation this summer."

A note to readers: I'm off for a few months. I'll be back in the fall.

Scot Lehigh's e-mail address is lehigh@globe.com.

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