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Service dogs like Sully are making a life-changing difference in Central Texas

This 2-year-old lab at Service Dogs Inc. (SDI) in Dripping Springs has many of the same skills as the service dog for President George H. W. Bush. Just like Sully, Ike knows how to make life easier for someone who's disabled. (Photo:Bettie Cross)

President Bush's service dog accompanied him one last time on Monday. Sully H. W. Bush flew with Bush’s casket to Washington DC where several days of remembrance ceremonies are being held. After the holidays, the yellow lab will go to work at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland. He'll be helping wounded veterans and service members. The special skills of service dogs like Sully can make a life-changing difference.

Drop your cell phone and Ike knows exactly what you need him to do.

"Thank you. Good job," said Becky Kier, the manager of training at Service Dogs Inc.

The 2-year-old lab at Service Dogs Inc. (SDI) in Dripping Springs has many of the same skills as the service dog for President Bush. Just like Sully, Ike knows how to make life easier for someone who's disabled.

“All of our service dogs learn to pick things up,” said Kier. “Because when somebody is in a wheelchair it then becomes difficult or dangerous to reach down and try to pick it back up.”

Sully went to live with the former President in June and was loyal to the end.

“I can tell you that clients of ours that would get their dogs in June would certainly be very bonded to them by November,” said Kier. “When you get the right dog and the right person together they really make awesome partnerships.”

One skill both Sully and Ike have learned is how to help their masters stay as independent as possible.

“Doors can be too heavy or just too awkward or hard for somebody to reach when they're in a wheelchair, so we tie things on to the doors that the dogs can learn to tug and pull open,” said Kier.

It can cost up to $50,000 to breed, raise, train and place an assistance dog. Sully was trained by America’s VetDogs. Ike is being trained at SDI.

SDI provides each dog free of charge and depends on donations and fundraising to cover the costs.

Dog trainers say President Bush made the right decision in asking that his two-year-old service dog continue to do his duty and stay on the job.

“He was raised and trained to have a working life and he's going to want that. He's a young dog,” said Kier. “Sully has so much more good to do.”

To make a donation to SDI click here.

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