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George H.W. Bush’s service dog Sully celebrated in return to New York

Posted at 6:27 PM, Dec 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-19 18:27:15-05

NEW YORK – Former President George H.W. Bush’s service dog Sully was welcomed back on Long Island Wednesday by the community and veterans group who trained him.

“Sully is America’s most famous, beloved dog," Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-NY, said during a press conference.

For 15 years, America’s VetDogs has trained service dogs on their Smithtown, N.Y. campus. They named Sully after “Miracle on the Hudson” pilot Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger III who served in the U.S. Air Force.

When the organization got the call from the President Bush's office after the passing of Barbara Bush earlier this year, they knew the 2-year-old yellow Labrador Retriever would be the perfect companion.

Related: 'Mission complete': Sully the service dog accompanies Bush one last time 

“We all felt such a tremendous sense of pride in not only having to work with the president, but all the different veterans and veterans groups that we work with right here on Long Island and across the country," said John Miller, the President and CEO of both America's VetDogs and Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind.

Sully gained a following on social media, and his Instagram account has over 260,000 followers. But he gained global fame after a photo went viral of him lying in front of Bush’s casket with the caption “Mission complete."

"I think he understood the sadness of the occasion," said Valerie Cramer, Sully's America's VetDogs trainer.

The Bush Family wanted Sully to continue serving other veterans. In the new year, Sully will move to Maryland and join the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center’s Facility Dog Program.

Related: A service dog's mission after its handler dies

In his new role, he will provide comfort to veterans and participate in rehabilitation sessions among other tasks.

Full Coverage: Death of George H.W. Bush