In addition to dehydration, fatigue and fright, Seamus was strapped on top of a car for 12 hours with limited or no bathroom breaks -- a condition that was highlighted in the Boston Globe article.
"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," the article said.
After his son noticed the liquid, Romney pulled the car over and hosed down Seamus at a gas station before putting him back into the crate on top of the car and continuing on with the drive.
The incident happened more than 20 years ago, at a time when Pet Palaces and Doggie Day Cares didn't exist, so were the Romneys just following a trend? Maybe, said Kaplan, but that doesn't make it any more acceptable.
"Certainly, a lot has changed as to how we view our dogs, our pets since 1983. The dogs would stay in the basement with just a bowl of food, and now we have products and services for dogs that didn't exist 20 years ago," said Kaplan. "But I just couldn't imagine anyone would ever do that to a pet. What if they got hit? I would never do that to any animal."
But Osheroff said the inside of a car may not be any safer for the family pooch in the case of an accident.
"In general, if you have a dog in a car, that dog is not wearing a seat belt. And I dare say there were no seat belts for dogs [in 1983], so I don't know if it makes any difference where the dog is," said Osheroff.
He equated it to a dog riding in the back of a pick up truck, a sight commonly seen on America's roadways.
Will this nearly quarter-century-old tale affect Romney's presidential bid in 2008? That remains to be seen, but for now pet owners across the country are speaking out in defense of dearly departed Seamus.
Dog lovers certainly aren't happy. Thousands of readers have posted comments on The New York Times Web site attached to a blog discussing the anecdote.
"This can't be real, this has to be a joke, right? Who, in their right mind straps their dog to the roof of the car? I don't care if he's got a windshield on this dog carrier," read one comment.
"I'm also amazed the story didn't end with the death of the dog," read another. "Did he make any trips where he strapped his wife or one of his children up there?"
Others related Romney's actions to the type of president he would be.
"The people who will vote for him are those who think torturing animals, making them suffer is OK. He's a disgusting man, presidential candidate, NOT," wrote one poster.
Yet others seem to think Romney's seemingly lack of concern for Seamus' well-being was a quality that will help him win over voters.
"Mitt Romney will be a great president, he can think dispassionately, with a clear head and objectively," one poster said.