The story behind George H.W. Bush’s service dog – and what his future holds

SMITHTOWN, N.Y. — A special member of the Bush family stole the show during the ceremonies honoring President George H.W. Bush on Monday. The president’s beloved service dog, Sully, faithfully joined his companion on his final journey.

CBS New York reports Sully was named after the pilot who successfully landed the plane in the Hudson River back in 2009. The yellow lab has performed some miracles of his own, and he began his life on Long Island.

The dog’s full name is Sully H.W. Bush. He was photographed recently sitting faithfully by the casket of President Bush. The caption reads: Mission complete.

Mission complete. #Remembering41

Another photo shared Monday showed Sully with Bush family members before the president’s casket was taken to Ellington Air Force Base.

Images from this morning and the state funeral for President George H. W. Bush — family at the funeral home, @SecretService honorary pallbearers, and boarding “Special Air Mission 41” at Ellington Field. #Remembering41 (Credit: Office of George H.W. Bush-Evan Sisley)

“You saw the picture that the president’s team posted and you just got chills,” said John Miller of America’s VetDogs.

There were chills for sure in Smithtown, where Sully was trained by America’s VetDogs. He was then presented to the 41st president shortly after the death of his wife, Barbara.

President Bush tweeted then that it was, “A great joy to welcome home the newest member of our family, ‘Sully,’ a beautiful — and beautifully trained — lab from @AmericasVetDogs. Could not be more grateful, especially for their commitment to our veterans.”

Training service dogs like Sully requires multiple months of classes spread over 10 acres in Smithtown. Many of the dogs CBS New York saw on Monday grew up with Sully. Brad Hibbard was among those who brought Sully to the Bush’s summer home in Kennebunkport, Maine, last June, offering the president companionship and support during his time of grief.

“We introduced Sully to all the different pet dogs there on the compound, and all the family met the dog. We spent a week there working with President Bush’s team,” Hibbard said.

Sully will return to Long Island at the end of the week and reside here until after the holidays. He will then join Walter Reed Military Medical Center working with wounded U.S. military veterans.

“And as you look at the service that Sully provided to the president, we have great pride, but we are very sad as well,” Miller said.

Those close to the service dog say for now Sully appears lonely, loyal to the U.S. leader for whom he had unwavering allegiance.

America’s VetDogs says Sully is getting his spirit back and will share his love for life with wounded vets, beginning next month.

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