A rather special dog started a new job at the Facility Dog Program at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Maryland on Wednesday. According to The Washington Post, late president George H.W. Bush's dog Sully has a new job but it isn't so different from his former role in that he'll continue to do what he does best: provide comfort to the people around him.
This time, though, Sully's new role will be to help wounded United States service members. That was always the plan, according to the dog's trainer, Valerie Cramer, who spoke about Sully's new job in December.
During a news conference that month, Cramer, who is a service dog program manager at America’s VetDogs, told the press, "In his new role, Sully will visit injured veterans, helping to provide comfort during rehabilitation center sessions and visit with families during what can be an emotional and very difficult time. He will be fulfilling President Bush’s request."
After Bush Sr.'s wife and former first lady Barbara Bush passed away in April 2018, the former first family reached out to Cramer to appoint Sully to assist Bush Sr. "From the first moment that the president said, ‘Welcome home!’ I knew that it was an absolutely perfect match," Cramer told the media in December. Here's the moment Sully officially became a service dog for the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center.
According to Cramer, Sully is a friendly dog with a calm disposition. In photos uploaded to his Instagram, the graceful Labrador can be seen beside his former owner, Bush Sr., before he passed away in November 2018.
Cramer has spoken about Sully and Bush Sr.'s friendship in the past. "As our training drew to an end, I watched the president and Sully, surrounded by family, near the beach, watching their guests jump off the dock into the sea and enjoy the day," Cramer said in December. It is a picture that will always remain in my mind. It was then that I was sure that it was time for me to leave Sully to do his job."
Here is Sully lying in front of Bush Sr.'s casket. On Instagram, the caption for this photo simply reads: "Mission complete."
Samantha Murdock, who leads the Animal Assisted Interventions program at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, told WBAL TV on Wednesday that Sully's job will be "visiting patients and staff all throughout the hospital, visiting patients, and wards that are here for long periods of time." According to WBAL TV, Sully will wear a vest and join a pack of service dogs at the center.
The Walter Reed National Military Medical Center's hospital corpsman Robert Park told WBAL TV that the main idea behind Sully's role is to provide care and comforting presence to ailing service members. "Some treatments here can be very challenging for people," Park said, "and to see a dog here, from personal experience, will make you feel better regardless of what kind of day you're having."
In you're interested to know more about Sully's life and his new job, you can follow his Instagram page, where updates about the Labrador's personal and professional activities are posted periodically. It's pawsitively sweet.