History is replete with tales of dogs who pined for their departed masters, from Hachiko the Akita, who waited for his late owner at the train station every day for almost a decade, to Greyfriars Bobby, the 19th-Century Skye Terrier who spent 14 years guarding his owner’s grave in Edinburgh, Scotland. The latest addition to that list of four-legged mourners is Sully the yellow Labrador Retriever.
Who is Sully?
The 2-year-old service dog of George H.W. Bush was photographed alongside the 41st president’s flag-draped casket in Houston, still wearing his service vest, ready to accompany his master one final time.
“Sully has the watch,” tweeted presidential son and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.
Sully became the elder Bush’s service dog this June, a few short months after the death of former first lady Barbara Bush. His namesake is airline captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger III, who landed a passenger plane on Manhattan’s Hudson River in 2009 after hitting a flock of geese. The original Sully was portrayed by Tom Hanks in the eponymous 2016 movie about the dramatic emergency touchdown, which saved the lives of all 155 passengers aboard.
The Bushes have always been ardent dog lovers. Their English Springer Spaniel, Millie, was a New York Times best-seller with her 1990 memoir “Millie’s Book: As Dictated to Barbara Bush,” which detailed her “first-pup’s view” of presidential life. Millie also whelped a litter while in the White House. One of her daughters, Spot, went on to live with George W. Bush, returning to her famous birthplace when that presidential son was elected the nation’s 43rd president in 2001.
As for Sully, he is expected to accompany Bush’s casket to Washington, D.C., where the former president will lie in state at the Capitol.
Later this week, Sully will return to America’s VetDogs, which trained him, for a temporary holiday stay on Long Island. Sully will then join two other service dogs, Dillon and Truman, at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s Facility Dog Program in Bethesda, Maryland, where he will assist wounded soldiers and active-duty personnel with physical and occupational therapy.