Last Tuesday I watched a video of Sully, former President George H.W. Bush’s service dog, pay his last respects at the Capitol building and I wasn’t prepared for the reaction I would have.
I watched as Sully was led in and as he properly sat in front of his former master’s casket. I noted the looks on the faces of those sitting and standing in the Capitol Rotunda as this was taking place and the tears started to well up.
There seemed to be a sadness in Sully’s eyes as he sat down again after his handler took him to the other side of the casket. That’s the moment I had to pause the video and cry.
I’m not a war hero, a former president, a successful businessman, or in the grand scheme of life, anyone of any importance, but I have an autism service dog, Tye, and in that moment I wondered what Tye would do if something were to happen to me.
Then I wondered what I would do if something were to happen to Tye before me, which is most likely.
The tears were once again flowing at that thought and I went to my bedroom (a benefit of working from home), crawled into bed and waited the ten seconds for Tye to come leaping onto my bed.
For the next half hour, maybe longer, I lay on my bed holding onto Tye and feeling blessed to have him in my life. When I started crying again, he put his paw on my face, as if to wipe away the tears. Good thing he didn’t know they were for him.
Tye can sense my mood, tell a difference in my heart rate and blood pressure from across the house and knows when things are going well and when they’re not. Tuesday was definitely one of the “not” days.
Just under two minutes into the 2:36 video, Sully laid on the ground just a few feet from the former President, as I would guess he did many times in the few months Bush 41 had Sully.
As he lays there, eyes on the casket, you’ll notice one other thing that he does. Every few moments he looks around and scans the crowd. You see, George Herbert Walker Bush is no longer with us, but Sully is still watching over his master and protecting him, constantly scanning for any danger to his master.
According to Shawn Abell of Dogs Nation, where Tye was trained, Sully can smell the former President, even in his casket, and that is why he is still watching over his owner.
As I sit at my desk typing away I hear a familiar snore from about ten feet away and I know Tye is where he usually spends his day, laying on a blanket where he can be near me, yet still see both the front and back door. He’s watching over me, just like a good service dog should.
As soon as I stop typing and start sobbing, he immediately gets up and comes to sit by my side with his head on my leg, showing me that he’s here for me to comfort me and help me through my day.
No matter where you stand in the realm of politics, it’s great to see that the White House, who is responsible for handling presidential viewings and funerals, made sure that Sully was a special part of the celebration.
Though our forty-first president only had Sully a short time, he had become a special member of the Bush family and he deserved to have his final moments with his former master.
Thanks to Dogs Nation and other groups that train service dogs for military veterans. You do our country a great service and for that, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
Sully is headed back to Walter Reed Medical Center in Washington D.C. where he will soon help other veterans in need, just as he did for 41.
A version of this post appeared on Good Men Project under the Not Weird Just Autistic column on December 5, 2018.
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