Labs are a “man’s best friend” — from Presidents to the rest of us

We  are longtime fans of Labrador Retrievers. Our first lab when were married was Gretchen, a yellow lab who died in 2008 (“You were our first ‘child,’ a ‘counselor’ to us on occasion, and a constant reminder why a dog is a man’s best friend,” I wrote at the time). Now we have Whiskey, a “fox red” lab who has traveled with us all over, including sailboat camping at Lake Tahoe, and who fetches the New York Times daily.

Labs are world famous for their companionship. America’s VetDogs placed a specially trained service dog with former President George H.W. Bush. Sully, a 2-year-old yellow Labrador Retriever, was specifically matched to provide support and companionship to Bush in his daily activities, as VetDogs reported this past summer.

“Sully is named after former airline pilot Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger III, who became famous for landing a damaged passenger jet on the Hudson River in 2009. Sully the dog was raised and trained through the VetDogs prison puppy program, in which inmates raise future service dogs until the dog is about 15 months old.

“America’s VetDogs trains and places guide dogs for individuals who are blind or have low vision; hearing dogs for those who have lost their hearing later in life; service dogs for those with other physical disabilities; physical and occupational therapy dogs to aid in the rehabilitation process in military and VA hospitals, and PTSD service dogs to help mitigate the effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.”

Credit: Jim McGrath’s Twitter account

On Sunday night, Bush family spokesman Jim McGrath honored the service dog who accompanied George H.W. Bush during the former president’s final months. “Mission complete,” McGrath tweeted, showing Sully the dog. Sully’s Instagram page showed the same photo.

Former President George W. Bush  “regrammed” the photo on his own Instagram, stating: “As much as our family is going to miss this dog, we’re comforted to know he’ll bring the same joy to his new home, Walter Reed,” the military hospital in Bethesda, Maryland.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for 12 years, and he was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News for eight years, among other positions. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing, swimming, and trout fishing in the Sierra.

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