Since undertaking this blogging adventure back in February, I have written everything that has appeared herein. Today, I'm departing from that tradition by posting, with permission, an op-ed piece written by a friend of mine that appeared in the Stamford Advocate on April 17, 2012. 

Marie, who had the good sense to be born in Ireland, employs a gentle skewer in her treatment of the Romney dog story. For what it's worth, I'm more comfortable with a blunderbuss. 

While the President's trip to Afghanistan has taken the Romney dog story off the front pages, it continues to nip at Mitt's heels. This was clearly evident in the President's remarks last Saturday at the White House Correspondents Dinner, and the fact that the GOP has Ann Romney out explaining how much the dog liked the trip. 

Marie's op-ed follows:

Op-Ed: With 'Friends' Like These, Animals Need A PAC

Man's best friend is his dog, so why would Mitt Romney strap his Irish setter to the roof of the family's station wagon? The occasion was no short spin to the park — doggone it — but a 12-hour, 700-mile trek from Boston to Ontario. 

Naturally, the international incident begs other questions: speed, head winds, tail winds, tunnels, traffic, not to mention animal-treatment ethics and the legality of it all. Given his long-held aspirations for the White House, what on Earth was Romney thinking?

No doubt about it, we live in a dog-eat-dog world and though roof boarding in a dog carrier isn't the same thing as waterboarding at Gitmo, still, the loneliness of a long-distance-setter is unsettling and isolation is a form of torture.

For the first few hours, the journey might have felt exhilarating for Seamus with the wind rippling through his feathered fur, but before long it would have raised his hackles. To be fair, Romney contrived some kind of windshield to "Mittigate" the turbulence. In any event, pleas for pit stops went unheard and the unfortunate pooch publicly disgraced himself and his master as well as the white Chevy.

We won't get mired in the details but let's just say the trip ended badly. 

Admittedly, Irish setters are not the sharpest canines in the animal kingdom. And Seamus was hardly the exception. Basically, the breed is blessed with distinctive good looks and boundless energy. You might say these auburn beauties are the dumb blondes of the animal world. Bred for hunting, they are sensitive, high-spirited and, of course, need plenty of exercise. So being cooped up in a cage for all those hours must have been pure torture.

Mitt should have considered LBJ's fate. When Johnson lifted beagles Him and Her by their floppy ears for a photo-op, his popularity plummeted.

Richard Nixon also possessed an Irish setter. We know of no such scandal associated with Tricky Dick: he was way too busy — in fact up to his jowls in hot water with the Watergate Plumbers — to even think of a trip with King Timahoe. 

Romney is by no means alone among fellow Republicans in the questionable treatment of animals. Sarah Palin, for example, boasts of her buffalo-killing and skinning skills; in Alaska she promoted aerial shooting of wolves and offered a bounty of $150 for each left forepaw.

While on a morning sprint, Rick Perry boldly took out a not-so-wily coyote. Now who in the world carries a laser-sighted gun while jogging? They shoot burros in Texas but the Guv says he's mostly worried about snakes. (Just for the record, Perry has 234 executions under his gubernatorial belt — but mercifully, that's not cruelty to animals.)

Speaking of reptiles, Herman Cain came up with a brilliant solution to illegal immigration — digging a moat along the Mexican border and adding alligators.

Good sportsman that he is, Dick Cheney however played fair and square: While he was Veep, he spared the quail and shot his hunting partner instead.

Whatever about varmints, politicians of all stripes, especially those running for highest office, should take heed and BEWARE OF THE DOG.

Marie Whitla O'Reilly is a Stamford resident.