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Sully, President Bush’s service dog, trains for work at Walter Reed

Sully, former President George H.W. Bush’s service dog, has temporarily moved back to his birthplace before he heads to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center next year.

The 2-year-old service dog, who captured Americans’ hearts after the 41st president died late last month, was welcomed back with open arms and a round of applause by America’s VetDogs on Wednesday.

GEORGE H.W. BUSH’S SERVICE DOG, SULLY, IS HONORED: MISSION COMPLETE

“We’re very honored that we had the opportunity over the course of the last six or seven months to work with former President George H.W. Bush,” John Miller, president and CEO of the organization, said at a press event in Long Island, New York.

Miller said that Bush and his family, along with their team, “were first class in every way and worked very hard with us to make sure that Sully … served the president the best he could.”

Sully’s final trainer and service dog program manager, Valerie Cramer, said she was the one who received the call from Bush’s team in April inquiring about a service dog for the onetime president.

OPINION: GEORGE H.W. BUSH’S SERVICE DOG ‘SULLY’ ISN’T A DEMOCRAT OR REPUBLICAN — IT’S DOGGONE CRAZY TO ATTACK HIM

“I immediately knew I had the perfect dog for President Bush,” she told reporters. “In fact, in my excitement, I may have even mentioned Sully’s name.”

Sully had the “right personality” and “temperament” to assist Bush because he’s “loyal, calm, kind with children” — all attributes Cramer said were “exactly what the president’s team asked for.”

When Bush died, “it was his wish that Sully serve other veterans,” she said. Bush’s wish will be granted sometime around February, when Sully will provide animal-assisted intervention at the military medical center in Bethesda, Maryland.

Sully will visit with injured veterans and help to provide comfort during rehabilitation sessions, Cramer said. “He will be fulfilling President Bush’s request.”

Blog World News

Australian leader Scott Morrison visits troops in Iraq

SYDNEY – Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison made a pre-Christmas visit to hundreds of troops in Iraq, telling them he wanted to say thank you from “one Australian to another.”

But Morrison canceled a planned visit to Afghanistan on the advice of the defense force chief due to operational security reasons.

Morrison traveled to Iraq on Wednesday to meet special forces soldiers and other Australian military personnel who are training the Iraqi Army to combat the Islamic State group.

It was the conservative prime minister’s first visit to the Middle East since he took the top job in August.

“I understand it’s a sacrifice. I understand it’s a big thing to be away from your family at this time of year,” Morrison told troops at the Taji military complex north of Baghdad. “And that’s why I’ve decided to come just to say ‘thank you’ from one Australian to another.”

Morrison broke bread with hundreds of soldiers across Iraq from before dawn until after dark. He stressed that he would honor their contributions long after their active service ended.

He said that for many troops, it would be the first Christmas away from their families and friends, while others had endured the tyranny of distance before.

“On behalf of my family, to you and your families, I want to say thank you very much for your service,” Morrison said. “But I also want to thank you as a prime minister, as the leader of the government, as a member of the Australian Parliament, on behalf of our entire nation.”

There are currently about 800 Australian soldiers deployed in Iraq, including about 300 who are involved in Task Force Taji.

The rotating group has trained almost 40,000 Iraqi soldiers since its mission began in 2015. Its focus has gradually shifted from delivering front-line training to mentoring Iraqi security forces.

Capt. Steve Moye, who is beginning his first deployment, said he has noticed an immediate impact.

“Even just in the four weeks we’ve been here, the improvement in the individual skills of the Iraqi soldiers has been exponential,” he said.

With a wife and two kids back home in Brisbane, Moye reshuffled birthday parties and opened Christmas presents early before he was deployed overseas. He said he wasn’t sure how he would cope on Christmas Day.

Handshakes and small talk gave way to brass bands and a bilateral meeting when Morrison sat down with Iraqi Prime Minister Adel Abdul-Mahdi at his palace in Baghdad. Abdul-Mahdi stressed the need for ongoing security cooperation to liberate Iraq from the Islamic State group and on improving economic relations to drive investment and jobs.

“The stability of Iraq is the stability of the region, and the stability of the region would be stability for the whole world,” he said.