Named after the airline pilot who made an emergency landing of a passenger jet on the Hudson River in 2009, Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger III, the dog was trained by America’s VetDogs and placed with the former president in June 2018.
Supported by donations, VetDogs trains service dogs to be placed with veterans who have various physical or mental needs.
The dogs can be trained for a variety of tasks, such as retrieving items, guiding or supporting their handler while walking, opening and closing doors, or even waking their owner up from a nightmare.
Sully’s training began with the VetDogs “prison puppy program,” where inmates raise dogs until they are about 15 months old, housebreaking them and teaching them basic commands. After that time, dogs return to the organization’s main facility, where training for more specific tasks takes place.
The three-year-old Labrador Retriever served as a companion to Bush until he passed away.
During Bush’s funeral proceedings, Jim McGrath, a spokesman for the Bush family, posted a photo of Sully laying by his master’s casket with a caption that read, “Mission complete.”
In February 2019, Sully went to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s Facility Dog Program in Bethesda, Maryland, to continue helping other veterans and active service members.
The statue, unveiled on December 2, features Sully in a sitting position holding his leash in his mouth, depicting the “retrieve” task that VetDogs trains the animals to perform.
Susan Bahary, who sculpted the statue, said, “I fell in love with Sully and wanted to capture in life-size bronze the beautiful loyalty and bond that our beloved president inspired in him and that was forever seared in our memories.”
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.