Western Courier

The importance of service dogs

Emma Johnson, Courier Staff

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As many of us know, George H.W. Bush, the 41st President of the United States of America, died this past Friday. Bush served as president from January of 1989 to January of 1993. Many of us have seen the social media photo of President Bush’s casket with his service dog laying in front, but what many of us don’t know is the major role that dog played in our former president’s life.

Before Bush was President, he served as a United States Naval Aviator from 1942-1945. He was awarded an Air Medal and a Distinguished Flying Cross medal for his duty during World War II. During his retirement, he was unfortunately diagnosed with a form of Parkinson’s disease called Vascular Parkinsonism, which led him to have to use a wheelchair to get around. Around June of 2018, the former president had help from a service dog as well as emotional support after the passing of his beloved wife, Barbara Bush. Sully H.W. Bush is a trained service dog for the military veterans from a non-profit organization, America’s Vetdogs, based out of New York. Though they only spent six months together, I believe that they both made an impact on each other’s lives. Sully was with the former president until his last day. Even sparking a trend on social media during his last day with the former president. It is reported that Sully will now help other disabled veterans after the passing of his first master. I have read articles calling Sully a hero for lying down and staying next to former President Bush’s casket, and others that bashed on those for their emotional reaction to the photo that emerged on social media just days after the 41st presidents passing. My thoughts are with the Bush family, no matter what my views are politically because nothing is worse than having a member of your family pass, especially just months after his wife passed.

My reason for this article is not to talk about the 41st presidents political views, but to talk to you all about the importance that service dogs bring to those that are physically and emotionally disabled, or as a support service dog. I believe that the best thing that the Bush’s could do for that dog is to let him find a new companion with someone who needs him, because that is something that he was trained for. From the photo that emerged, it also shows how passionate Sully was even just six months with the former president. Services dogs are important because they provide assistance to those who have mental illness, hearing impairments, visual difficulties, seizures, autism, diabetes, emotional disabilities and other disabilities. A services dog will work up to 10 years and even may have many owners, but will make an important impact on those who need them. Not just any dog can be or should be registered to be a service dog. I believe that those who want a service dog need to go through extensive training depending on the disability as well as how independent or dependent people who need service dogs are.

For President Bush, Sully was not just an emotional support dog or a physical service dog, but a family member to the Bush family.

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The importance of service dogs