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.”
Disclosure: Unlike almost every other media outlet, The Texan is not beholden to any special interests, does not apply for any type of state or federal funding, and relies exclusively on its readers for financial support. If you’d like to become one of the people we’re financially accountable to, click here to subscribe.
Daniel Friend is the Marketing and Media Manager for The Texan. After graduating with a double-major in Political Science and Humanities, he wrote for The Texan as a reporter through June 2022. In his spare time, you're likely to find him working on The Testimony of Calvin Lewis, an Abolition of Man-inspired novel and theatrical podcast.