Sully, HW Bush’s dog, starts new job with wounded US service members, veterans

Sully the service dog of former US President George HW Bush lays in front of Bush’s casket as it lies in state inside the US Capitol Rotunda on Capitol Hill in Washington, US. (Reuters pic)

WASHINGTON: Lifting his thick paw to shake, former President George HW Bush’s service dog took an oath to serve at Walter Reed National Medical Centre on Wednesday, embarking on a new job helping disabled American veterans and active-duty service members.

Sully HW 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 Bush’s death in 2018, Sully faithfully laid down beside Bush’s 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,” Jenna Bush Hager, 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 2-1/2 years old, according to America’s Vetdogs, the organization 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 after both engines lost thrust when the aircraft struck a flock of geese while taking off from New York’s LaGuardia Airport.