Service Dog Bids Farewell To Bush 41

Sully will move on to different work
By Karen B. London PhD, December 2018, Updated June 2021

The image of George Herbert Walker Bush’s service dog Sully in front of the flag-draped casket of the 41st President of the United States has been shared widely. It was originally tweeted by Jim McGrath, the spokesperson of the Bush family, as the nation says good-bye to the man who served his country for so many of his 94 years. Nothing humanizes a famous man more than a reminder of the great love between him and his dog.

Sully joined President Bush as his service dog earlier this year after the death of his beloved wife, Barbara. Due to physical difficulties associated with a form of Parkinson’s disease, Bush had various physical challenges. Sully helped by doing things for him such as opening doors, picking things up and seeking help.

According to family and friends, Bush and Sully were close. In addition to his formal duties, Sully was a good friend and companion to the former President. They spent a lot of time together on the beach and playing fetch. George and Barbara Bush were always dog lovers. Their Springer Spaniels Millie and Ranger lived with them when they were in the White House. Many people may remember Bush mentioning his dog in a speech during his 1992 campaign for re-election when he said, “My dog Millie knows more about foreign affairs than these two bozos [Bill Clinton and Al Gore].”

After the funeral and memorial services for President Bush are over, Sully will be re-assigned as a service dog at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s Facility Dog Program. His training will allow him to help wounded veterans undergoing occupational and physical therapy as they recover from a variety of injuries and traumas.

It must be hard for Sully to lose the human half of his service team, and one can only hope that he heals from that grief and goes on to have other fulfilling relationships. The Bush family says that they will miss him very much but that it will comfort them to know that Sully will offer the same joy to others that he gave to 41.

Photo: Screenshot Jim McGrath's tweet

Karen B. London, Ph.D. is a Certified Applied Animal Behaviorist and Certified Professional Dog Trainer who specializes in working with dogs with serious behavioral issues, including aggression. Karen writes the animal column for the Arizona Daily Sun and is an Adjunct Professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Northern Arizona University. She is the author of six books about canine training and behavior, including her most recent, Treat Everyone Like a Dog: How a Dog Trainer’s World View Can Improve Your Life

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