Maverick passed away peacefully in the company of his family

By Michelle Boudin
Updated January 24, 2017 04:56 PM
Source: Everybody Loves Maverick/Facebook

Maverick seemed to always have a smile on his face, even after two bouts with cancer and the loss of the use of his back legs.

Maverick’s owner Joey Maxwell says, “He was just magical. He really was.”

Joey and Allison Maxwell wanted to give their beloved rescue one last hurrah last fall after the veterinarian told them Maverick didn’t have much time left. They got a wagon and used it to push him around DeLand, Florida, where they live.

They posted pictures of his adventures on Facebook and received letters and comments, dog toys and more from around the world.

“Everybody always loves Mav,” Joey said last October. The wagon rides seemed to cure the dog’s cancer. The vet told the Maxwells he was in remission.

But then, in December, the cancer came back for a third time. Still, Maverick seemed as happy as ever and his bloodwork didn’t show anything too alarming.

“We knew the time would come eventually, but we thought we had a lot more time with him,” Joey Maxwell tells PEOPLE exclusively.

On Saturday night, Joey and his wife Allison were out for the evening and came home to see Maverick in the window as usual. He was barking and excited, waiting for them to come in.

Joey tells PEOPLE, “We fed him dinner and played with him and left the room for a few minutes. I came back in to get him to carry him to bed and he had just laid down and simply gone to sleep.”

He was nine and a half.

“Honestly, in some ways it was easier this way. Our biggest concern was that this was going to get ugly at the end and we’d have to make a decision and we never wanted him to suffer.”

They’ve already received more than 2200 comments on Facebook since posting about losing him this weekend.

“He was Maverick right up until the end. He didn’t suffer, and that meant a lot.”