Dog Sully Guarding George HW Bush’s Casket Is A Sad Reminder Of Death Impacting Pets

George HW Bush's dog Sully offers proof that pets also mourn the death of humans, as the canine stands watch over the former president's casket.

George HW Bush at World Series
David J. Phillip / Getty Images

George HW Bush's dog Sully offers proof that pets also mourn the death of humans, as the canine stands watch over the former president's casket.

A picture of Sully the dog asleep in front of George H.W. Bush’s casket has not only evoked tears, but also offered a reminder of how death impacts pets. Sully came to the former president shortly after the former president lost his life partner and devoted wife, Barbara Bush.

The much-loved canine is a service dog that was named after another true American hero, the former airline pilot, Chesley B. “Sully” Sullenberger III. Back in 2009, Sullenberger made an emergency landing in the Hudson River, making worldwide headlines. That landing saved all 155 lives onboard that aircraft.

As much as Sully became part of the Bush family since joining George H.W. Bush at home, the family believes this highly-trained service dog is not done yet with his mission in life. For that reason, the dog will return to the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. At Walter Reed, Sully will work with other veterans.

Seats on Air Force One were removed today so that George H.W. Bush’s casket could ride in the president’s cabin on the trip this morning to Washington, D.C. Sully will accompany the casket of his late owner on this trip.

Former president George W. Bush posted a picture of Sully sleeping near his father’s coffin along with a message of future plans for the dog. You can see this in the post below.

Despite being a service dog, Sully was much like many other pets around the nation when showing love and devotion to their owners. Sully can perform a two-page list of commands, reported CNN News. This dog can not only fetch items, but he can also answer the phone.

Sully’s picture has left tears in the eyes of many people this morning, including a couple of people on Fox & Friends, as they shared the picture above with their viewers. This is a reminder that pets feel the loss of their owners when they die.

According to PetPlace, many pets feel a significant bout of anxiety and distress when separated from their owners, even for a short time. When an owner dies, their bereavement is similar to how separation anxiety feels like.

Dogs often mope after the death of a loved one and they’ve been known to wail at funerals. There are plenty of recent stories of dogs refusing to leave the cemetery after the burial of a loved one. Furthermore, there are also incidents of dogs going hunting and finding their owner’s grave weeks after the burial.

The ASPCA did a study a few years back that showed “two-thirds of dogs experience lethargy and loss of appetite after another dog in the household passes, suggesting that dogs are capable of mourning fellow canines, if not human companions,” according to an article from Slate.

One of the more famous stories told about a dog grieving its owner’s death dates back a few centuries ago. A Skye terrier owned by a Mr. John Gray of Edinburgh, Scotland, held a vigil at his owner’s grave for 14 years. Mr. Gray passed away in 1858 and Greyfriars Bobby, which was the Skye terrier’s name, never forgot his owner.

For the next 14 years, until the dog died 1872, Bobby spent the night at his master’s grave. It didn’t matter what the weather was like. Bobby was there in the snow, rain, and hail every night without fail. A statue and water fountain was created to honor this faithful dog’s memory in 1873.

It doesn’t take an expert to see that Sully is feeling something in the picture as he sleeps next to George H.W. Bush’s coffin. The former president and the dog formed a bond, and suddenly Sully’s best friend is no longer there. As seen in the photo, Sully seemed to join the rest of the world in mourning the former president’s death today.