Bush and his canine companion were together for only six months, but they became fast friends

By Kelli Bender
February 27, 2019 02:51 PM

Sully has started his new assignment.

Former President George H. W. Bush‘s service dog attended his Welcome Aboard Ceremony at Walter Reed National Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland, on Wednesday.

The Labrador retriever, who was trained by non-profit America’s VetDogs, is joining the medical center’s Facility Dog Program some three months after Bush’s death on Nov. 30.

“In his new role, Sully will visit injured veterans, helping to provide comfort during rehabilitation center sessions and visit with families during what can be an emotional and very difficult time,” Valerie Cramer, Sully’s trainer at America’s VetDogs, said of the canine’s new role at a news conference in December.

Cramer added that by taking on this new position, Sully “will be fulfilling President Bush’s request.”

Walter Reed commemorated Sully’s arrival at the medical center with a ceremony where the dog was given the rank of Hospital Corpsman Second Class (HM2). A pin denoting his rank was affixed to Sully’s working dog vest by Bush’s personal aide Evan Sisley.

RELATED: George H. W. Bush and Sully the Service Dog: A Short But Special Friendship in Photos

George H. W. Bush's service dog Sully at Walter Reed on Wednesday
Harvey Duze, WRNMMC Command Communications

Sully first won the public’s affection when he was placed with the late president — who had long been in a wheelchair due to a rare syndrome that mimics Parkinson’s — in June 2018.

The pair was together for only six months, but they became fast friends.

Sully was a constant at Bush’s side and even went to vote with the former president last year.

After Bush died, Sully made headlines for his continued dedication, guarding Bush’s coffin and attending his casket viewing in the Capitol Rotunda.

 

Sully later returned to the America’s VetDogs campus in St. James, New York, where he was reunited with his trainer, who has been teaching the dog new tricks over the past several months.

RELATED: Service Dog Sully Shares Special Moment By George H. W. Bush’s Side at Capitol Casket Viewing

“One of the tasks that I teach for the dogs at Walter Reed is that the dogs bowl for people,” Cramer said. “So I have a little set and we put it on the floor. Maybe there’s a child that has been in the hospital for a long time and hasn’t gotten out of bed for a while, so they can bowl with them.”

As Cramer mentioned, it was Bush’s wish to have Sully continue to serve those in need, specifically veterans.

George H. W. Bush's service dog Sully is welcomed at a ceremony at Walter Reed on Wednesday
Harvey Duze, WRNMMC Command Communications
Sully at Walter Reed
America’s VetDogs/ Rebecca Eden

 

Before his first day at Walter Reed, Sully received a special send-off on the Today show. His namesake, Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, who famously landed a passenger jet on the Hudson River in New York City in 2009, stopped by to meet the dog and wish him well.

Bush’s granddaughter Jenna Bush Hager and her two daughters, Mila, 5, and Poppy, 3, also showed up to shower Sully with love ahead of his big move.

“Sully will go on to spread his love at Walter Reed Hospital,” Hager, 37, later wrote on Twitter. “He was a loving companion when my Gampy needed him most. My girls adored him—and wanted a final goodbye…”

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