If you were one of the millions of Americans who watched as dignitaries from around the world visited the U.S. Capitol to pay their final respects to President George Herbert Walker Bush last year, there’s a strong chance that you also saw his stalwart companion and service dog, Sully H.W. Bush. Photos of the grieving yellow Lab lying with his head down in front of his former master’s casket went viral, and the nation was touched by his loyalty and devotion to the late president.
Following the burial of George H.W. Bush, many wondered what would happen to Sully. After dutifully serving his master to the end, it seemed a waste for the talented dog to end his career of helping others prematurely. Thankfully, the late president had the foresight to recognize the incredible potential Sully had to help others before his passing, which is why it was one of his final wishes to make sure that the dog could continue doing what he was best at: assisting those in need.
One week ago, Sully was given the rank of U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsman Second Class. The ceremony, which was livestreamed on Facebook and has now gained tens of thousands of views, showed the distinguished Lab being sworn in at the Walter Reed National Medical Military Center as part of the Walter Reed Bethesda Facility Dogs team, which provides assistance and compassion to military members and their families.
In addition to promising to “support, comfort, and cheer warriors and their families,” Sully also swore to “take this obligation freely, without any promises of treats or tummy rubs” in order to provide to joy and solace to the nation’s servicemen and women. The ceremony concluded with Sully giving Walter Reed’s director a fine handshake to seal the deal, at which point those observing in the audience broke out into applause. Sully was presented with a service vest, but unlike the other dogs, his vest featured the Presidential Seal, just like the one he wore when caring for President Bush.
It probably isn’t a coincidence that Sully went on to serve in the Navy, since that’s exactly what a young George H.W. Bush did shortly after the end of World War II. But, in his new position, Sully will be providing aid to the servicemen and women who need it, Navy or otherwise. And in this way, the president’s legacy, at least partially, lives on through the care and selflessness of his loyal service dog, Sully H.W. Bush.