Sully, late US president George H. W. Bush's dog, starts new job with wounded US service members, veterans

Sully H. W. Bush, the service dog assigned to former US president George H. W. Bush, took up his new assignment serving veterans and staff at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre on Wednesday.
VIDEO: REUTERS
Sully became famous as canine caretaker and constant companion to former president George H. W. Bush in the final stages of his life.
Sully became famous as canine caretaker and constant companion to former president George H. W. Bush in the final stages of his life.PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - Lifting his thick paw to shake, former president George H. W. Bush's service dog took an oath to serve at Walter Reed National Medical Centre on Wednesday (Feb 27), 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 in 2018, Sully faithfully laid down beside the casket.

In his new role as a hospital "foreman" in 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.

"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 on Thursday.

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. He is about 2½ years old, according to America's Vetdogs, the organisation that trained him.

During the ceremony, which was posted in a video on Facebook, Sully 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 was named after Captain Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger, the pilot who landed a US Airways passenger jet in the Hudson River in January 2009 after both engines lost thrust when the aircraft struck a flock of geese while taking off from New York's LaGuardia Airport.