SMITHTOWN, N.Y. (CBS SF/CBS News) — A special member of the Bush family saluted President George H.W. Bush Tuesday, after stealing the show during the Monday’s ceremonies honoring the president.
Bush’s beloved service dog, Sully, faithfully joined his companion on his final journey to Washington, DC and on Tuesday sat at attention a few moments next to the casket as the President lay in state at the U.S. Capitol rotunda. Sully then lay down next to the casket as he did on Monday, when a photo of the dogbecame a viral tear-jerker.
Sully was named after Danville, Calif. hero pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger who successfully landed a disabled US Airways passenger jet in the Hudson River in 2009. The yellow labrador’s full name is Sully H.W. Bush.
Another photo shared Monday showed Sully with Bush family members before the president’s casket was taken to Ellington Air Force Base.
“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.