President George H.W. Bush's Service Dog Joins the U.S. Navy

Sully H.W. Bush at the late President George H.W. Bush's state funeral ceremony, December 4, 2018 (DoD)

By Navy Live 03-01-2019 05:47:21

Sully, the late President George H.W. Bush’s service dog, has embarked on a new job as a hospital corpsman at the U.S. Navy's Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.

At the welcome aboard ceremony Feb. 27 at Naval Support Activity Bethesda, Sully had a personalized oath of enlistment. He was asked to provide "unconditional love and solace, especially on busy days," and acknowledge that the responsibility came "without any promise of treats or tummy rubs." U.S. Navy Capt. Dr. Mark Kobelja, the director of Walter Reed, shook Sully’s paw following the oath.

The yellow Labrador retriever, a service dog from America’s VetDogs, joined the Walter Reed Bethesda (WRB) Facility Dog Program, which provides interactive care for patients and staff using innovative Animal Assisted Interventions. Its mission is to help reduce stress and increase overall feelings of well-being among patients and staff. 

Sully during his welcome aboard celebration at Walter Reed's USO Warrior and Family Center, Feb. 27, 2019 (USN)

WRB facility dogs average 2,500 contacts and over 200 working hours per month, collectively, according to the medical center. Sully will be one of seven dogs working at the facility in Bethesda, Maryland. 

According to the center, for every hour that a facility dog and their trained handler works, they have the opportunity to create positive experiences for an average of 12 patients and their families.

Sully made headlines with a photo of him resting near the late president's casket inside the U.S. Capitol Rotunda on Capitol Hill last December. He was named after Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the airline captain who landed a passenger jet in the Hudson River after the aircraft hit a flock of geese after takeoff.

The well-known photo of Sully keeping watch over the casket of former President George H.W. Bush (Evan Sisley, Office of George H.W. Bush)

The opinions expressed herein are the author's and not necessarily those of The Maritime Executive.