Where George H.W. Bush's Service Dog Sully Is Headed Next Following the 41st President's Death
George H.W. Bush‘s beloved service dog Sully will not be going home with one of the Bush family members.
Though the yellow Labrador Retriever shared one of Bush’s most touching relationships during his final months, Sully has been assigned to his next duties after nearly two years with the Bush patriarch. Following the death of the 41st president, the 3-year-old dog, who became an internet sensation during his time working for Bush, will join the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s Facilities Dog Program in Maryland.
In a statement obtained by PEOPLE on Monday, America’s VetDogs announced that Sully, who flew with Bush’s coffin to Washington, D.C., will be positioned alongside two other service dogs very soon.
“Later this week, Sully will return back to America’s VetDogs in Smithtown, New York, for a temporary stay throughout the holiday season before joining the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s Facilities Dog Program,” the statement read.
“Sully will be working alongside fellow VetDogs facility dogs SGT Dillon and SGT Truman who are there to assist with physical and occupational therapy to wounded soldiers and active duty personnel during their journey to recovery at Walter Reed Bethesda,” the statement continued. “America’s VetDogs has placed physical and occupational therapy dogs at military medical centers to work with service members recovering from amputations or other injuries. Through retrieval, bracing, and innovative tug-of-war exercises, these dogs work with service members as they adapt and work with their new prosthetic limbs.”
Sully’s next handler has yet to announced but the person could be one of the Active Duty Corpsman and Medics.
Bush died on Friday night at age 94. His spokesperson Jim McGrath confirmed the news, writing in a statement, “George Herbert Walker Bush, World War II naval aviator, Texas oil pioneer, and 41st President of the United States of America, died on November 30, 2018. He was 94 and is survived by his five children and their spouses, 17 grandchildren, eight great-grandchildren, and two siblings.”
“He was preceded in death by his wife of 73 years, Barbara; his second child Pauline ‘Robin’ Bush; and his brothers Prescott and William or ‘Bucky’ Bush,” the statement continued.
Sully was first placed with Bush in June 2018 and was specifically matched with the late commander-in-chief to provide support during his daily activities.
On Sunday, George W. Bush honored Sully in a heartwarming tribute along with a poignant photo of the dog guarding his former owner’s flag-draped casket. “As much as our family is going to miss this dog, we’re comforted to know he’ll bring the same joy to his new home, Walter Reed, that he brought to 41,” the 43rd president wrote on Instagram.
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Longtime Bush spokesperson McGrath also tweeted the same photo, writing, “Mission complete. #Remembering41.”
In June, Bush announced — two months after his wife, former First Lady Barbara Bush, died at age 92 in April — that he had teamed up with Sully. “A great joy to welcome home the newest member of our family, ‘Sully,’ a beautiful — and beautifully trained — lab from @AmericasVetDogs,” Bush wrote on Twitter. “Could not be more grateful, especially for their commitment to our veterans.”
Sully, who is named after Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger III, the pilot who safely landed a plane on the Hudson River in 2009, was specially trained to accommodate Bush’s needs. He learned the ropes from incarcerated people in VetDogs’ prison puppy program until he was 15 months old.
On Nov. 1, Sully joined Bush on his final public outing when they headed to the polls to vote in the midterm elections along with former White House chief of staff Jim Baker.
Sully’s Instagram bio was also updated following Bush’s death. “A kinder, gentler labrador— making my forever home at Walker’s Point,” the bio reads.
On Monday, Bush returned to Washington for the final time, starting a four-day memorial period. His casket departed from Ellington Field Joint Reserve Base in Houston and it traveled to the U.S. Capitol Building Rotunda where it will remain Monday evening until 7 a.m. Wednesday morning. The public is invited to pay their respects.