George H. W. Bush’s Former Service Dog Sully Has Joined the Navy

Sully's new job will be to reduce stress and increase well-being among the patients and staff at the Walter Reed National Military Center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Mar 31, 2019

Sully, the 2-year old golden labrador retriever who was the beloved service dog to the late former President George H.W. Bush, has started a new job. He will now help wounded service members at the Walter Reed National Military Center in Bethesda, Maryland just outside Washington DC.

The loyal pup stole the hearts of people everywhere when he was photographed lying down in front of his former charge's flag-draped casket. Now Sully is a hit again on social media but for the new chapter in his life.

During a live-streamed ceremony, Sully - wearing a new military vest representing the medical center's dog team – was appointed to the rank of hospital corpsman second class. "Your appointment as a petty officer in the United States Navy makes you heir to a long and proud tradition of naval leadership," said a Navy spokesman.

Sully was asked to take a personalized oath of enlistment: "Do you affirm or pant as a hospital corpsman in the United States Navy that you will support, comfort and cure warriors and their families, active duty and retired? That you embrace our staff and bear unconditional love and solace, especially on busy days? That you take this obligation freely, without any promise of treats or tummy rubs and that you will faithfully discharge the duties to provide joy, love and nurturing for our soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, and sailors and their families?" He gave his paw in acceptance.

The service dog, named after Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, the pilot who safely landed US Air flight 1549 in New York's Hudson River, was assigned to the former president after the passing of former first lady Barbara Bush.

"We immediately thought of Sully. We knew he was the right dog for the job, especially with Mr. Bush being older and in a wheelchair. He needed a dog that would also help him with daily tasks," Brad Hibbard, chief program officer at Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind/America's VetDogs, told CNN last year. Sully was trained by the organization.

"Not only is he good at retrieving things, he helped the President by opening doors, knew when to get assistance from someone else, and knew when Bush needed comfort, so he would place his head on his lap," Hibbard said.

The service dogs at Walter Reed collectively work over 200 hours a month for around 2,500 contacts according to a spokesperson for the facility. The dogs provide a very valuable service by helping to reduce stress and increase well-being among the patients and the staff.

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Bonnie Riva Ras has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.