According to English Wikipedia:

In June 1983, the Romney family left their Belmont, Massachusetts home on their way to Romney's parents' cottage in Beach O'Pines, Ontario for an annual vacation along the shore of Lake Huron. Seamus rode in a carrier on the roof of the family's Chevrolet Caprice station wagon for the 12 hour trip. Romney had built a windshield for the carrier to make the ride more comfortable for the dog. During the 650-mile (1,050 km) trip, Seamus had a bout of diarrhea.

Aside from the diarrhea, was this a proper method for transporting a dog? What methods should owners use to transport dogs when travelling cross-country?

  • How big was Mitt Romney's dog?
    – JoshDM
    Dec 4, 2013 at 17:03
  • 2
    It's related, I think, to What strategy to undertake for a long car trip with my dog but it's not actually a duplicate.
    – Joanne C
    Dec 4, 2013 at 17:06
  • 1
    He was an Irish setter: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Seamus_Romney.jpg Dec 4, 2013 at 17:37
  • I don't think this is a duplicate, it is referring to a particular style of transporting a dog.
    – user6796
    Dec 5, 2013 at 3:04
  • 2
    Long answers are expected, but there is only a short one: 1.) open the back door of your station wagon, SUV or whatever. 2.) Give the command to enter the car. 3.) close the door 4.) Drive along 5.) Make sure there is anough water, protection from the sun and occasional rests, where the dog can go pieing.
    – Ingo
    Dec 19, 2013 at 10:20

2 Answers 2


Carrying dogs on the roof of a car where there is no protection from the elements, and the wind factor from being transported at high speed would not be healthy for a dog and could even be inhumane. At the very least, it would cause agitation, if not ill health.

In Australia, we had an incident of a man dying (linked article may be disturbing) in the back of a police paddy wagon (van). He was being transported across part of the country for a similar time frame as Mr. Romney's dog, and died of dehydration and severe burns.

Placing a carrier on top of a vehicle is a similar arrangement to the one which killed the man from the article. As it is a separate compartment from the main cabin of the vehicle, the driver has no idea of or ability to regulate the carrier conditions.


If you are keeping a dog on the roof of the car, especially for such a prolonged period, you need to ensure he is protected from the elements, but has appropriate ventilation and periodic stops. Keeping a dog on the roof of your car is a safety concern, and having a lack of direct contact on the dog's condition is a health concern. For an inferred sustained, 12-hour, non-stop period, it certainly does not appear to be a humane way to transport a dog.

Assuming the dog is traveling with you, the safest and proper way to transport a dog is in a controlled environment: inside your vehicle, with the appropriate air conditioning or heating enabled.


The reactions of dogs traveling vary, but if you plan to drive for a long while with your dog, you should familiarize your dog's in-car behavior with a number of short drives. As it stands, the dog should lay down on a seat, possibly with a blanket to grip, or a carpeted area. If there is no carpeting and it is a smooth metal floor, such as the inside of a van, consider a rubber-bottomed floor mat so he can stay stable. If the dog is larger and sits with a seat belt, do so. If you need to keep Fido in a dog carrier in the car, do so. If you have a dog crate and want him in it, make sure it is secure so it doesn't slip or move around in the car.

Equipment / Provisions

Bring a heavy blanket for the dog to rest on. This should give him a good grip for balance. Bring along some kibble and water and a drinking bowl / container for the water. Bring a heavy leash so your dog does not leave your grip when you walk him. Bring some disposable plastic bags to pick up waste, and a roll of paper towels and hand sanitizer in case you get soiled. Bring some cloth towels as well.

Bring a copy any of your dog's identification documents including microchip information if you have it, and vaccination documentation as well as your dog's veterinarian contact information.


Provide drink at rest stops or if you provide it in-car, make sure it won't spill and keep the water level low. Provide kibble at your discretion. Consider how your dog normally schedules his relieving in relation to consuming.

Rest Stops

Identify rest stops / parks on the trip map. Plan some stops at grassy areas / rest stops and try to base your schedule on how you generally schedule your dog's outside periods. Do not let your dog go off on his own in unfamiliar areas.

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