WASHINGTON • Former president George H. W. Bush's service dog is embarking on a new job helping disabled American veterans and active-duty service members.
Sully H. W. Bush became famous as canine caretaker and constant companion to the 41st US president in the final stages of his life. In the Capitol rotunda, after Mr Bush's death last year, Sully faithfully laid down beside Mr Bush's casket.
In his new role as a hospital "foreman" at a Walter Reed facility outside Washington, Sully's duties are to provide support, comfort and cheer to wounded veterans, their families and facility staff, thus reducing stress and increasing positive feelings, the medical centre said on Wednesday.
"Sully will go on to spread his love at Walter Reed Hospital. He was a loving companion when my Gampy needed him most," Ms Jenna Bush Hager, Mr Bush's granddaughter, posted on Twitter yesterday.
The yellow Labrador is one of seven dogs working at the facility in Bethesda, Maryland. Collectively, they "average 2,500 contacts and over 200 working hours per month", according to the medical centre.
Sully is about 21/2 years old, according to America's Vetdogs, the organisation that trained him.
During a ceremony on Wednesday in which Sully took an oath to serve, the dog prompted laughter from the audience when he raised his head and dipped his chest to stretch before taking his oath to care for veterans "without any promise of treats or tummy rubs".
Afterwards, he was fitted with a "military uniform", a new vest he will wear while working.
Sully is named after Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, the pilot who landed a US Airways passenger jet in the Hudson River after its engines lost thrust when the aircraft struck a flock of geese while taking off from New York's LaGuardia Airport in 2009.