Even before the world knew him, Maverick’s owners would say “Everybody Loves Mav!”
“He’s the best dog in the world,’ owner Joey Maxwell tells PEOPLE. “There’s just something special about him. Even people that don’t like dogs love him, including my mother-in-law.”
Now everyone is getting to know and love the nine -year-old golden retriever thanks to his sweet smile, the wagon he gets around in, and the Facebook page documenting what was supposed to be his last great adventure.
Two weeks ago, a veterinarian told Allison and Joey Maxwell of DeLand, Florida, to take Maverick home to die. He was fighting through his second round of cancer, couldn’t move his hind legs and couldn’t lift his head off the bed. Ever since rescuing him from a kill shelter when he was a puppy, the Maxwells have spoiled Maverick. They were inconsolable at the thought of losing him.
“He spent two nights in the ICU and they told us we only had a couple of days left. It was devastating. My wife and I were in tears but we decided we didn’t want his last few days to have been in the hospital. We wanted him to have the best day ever,” Joey shares.
But Maverick couldn’t move his back legs, so his owners had to get creative to help him get around.
Joey ran to Lowe’s in search of some sort of cart but having just gone through Hurricane Matthew a few days before, the store was wiped out.
The store manager, John Miller, heard their story though and went to work finding a wagon.
“He started making calls and told me to come back in an hour,” Maxwell remembers.
Joey was shocked when he got back to the store.
“I was floored. Not only did he have the wagon, but he’d had his team put it together.” And then Miller did something that brought Joey to tears.
The Maxwell’s had spent all of their money on Maverick’s chemo and ICU bills. They had just about $130 left in their bank account, but hadn’t told anyone. It would barely cover the cost of the wagon and they were prepared to spend it.
“When the cashier rang it up, the manager gave us a 50%-off discount. I didn’t tell anyone at Lowe’s what we had left. He just did that out of the kindness of his heart. I broke down. I was a blubbering mess.”
Miller says, “You never know what a customer is coming into the store to buy. Every customer’s a different situation. If we go out of our way to make a difference in their lives, then this is Lowe’s living our core values.”
The Maxwell’s left the home improvement store and immediately put Maverick on the wagon, pulling him through downtown DeLand. “A 100-pound golden retriever rolling through our small downtown is quite a sight so everyone came up to us!”
People treated Mav to hamburgers and ice cream and kept posing for pics with him and his stuffed giraffe (named “Goose” after the other Top Gun pilot of course). “It was wonderful!”
Incredibly, the next day Maverick seemed to feel a little better. And each day since then he’s perked up a little bit more.
His dad says, “I think it’s the cart. It sounds crazy, but I think the fresh air has helped. He’s been getting a ton of love and attention from everyone and I think that’s made the difference.”
The Maxwells have been posting pictures of Maverick on his Facebook page and getting love from around the world. “I’ve been using Google translate to send messages back to people in their native language that say ‘Maverick loves you!’ The response has been amazing from every country on the planet. To see so much love for Maverick is incredible!”
The dog’s back legs are still not in great shape, so friends have donated a doggie wheelchair to help Maverick get around. It’s a little small for him, so the Maxwells have set up a GoFundMe account to help buy a new one.
“His prognosis is really good now. He’s in remission! We found out the leg issue is not related to the cancer. He’s eating again and smiling. I scratch his belly and he kicks his legs again,” Maxwell says. “It’s just been so wonderful to see all this love for Maverick!”