Just a few months ago, a golden retriever named Maverick captured the world’s heart by going on one last wagon ride through town, thanks to the kindness of strangers. Now, the sweet, smiley canine with whom the internet fell in love, has succumbed to his third bout with cancer.
Maverick passed as peacefully and painlessly as possible, at his family’s home. Joey Maxwell, Maverick’s owner of eight years, says he and his wife returned home from a night at the theater Saturday to be find a joyful Maverick, who barked happily as they prepared his dinner.
“He ate a big meal and playfully barked for more,” Maxwell tells CBS News. “Allison and I left Maverick in the living room to finish his seconds as we shut the house down and got ready for bed. About 15 minutes later, we came back into the living room to get Maverick. During that time, Maverick had laid his head down and simply went to sleep. Just like that, it was all over. He had waited until we got home so he could enjoy one last meal with us and tell us goodbye. It was as peaceful and painless as could be.”
Last fall, when Maverick’s lymphoma reappeared after a second round of chemo, the outlook wasn’t good.
“He was anemic, had an infection, and we really thought we were going to lose him,” Maxwell told CBS News in October. “He spent two nights and three days in the ICU, then they told us that we were bringing him home for hospice care.”
When Maxwell and his wife got home with their beloved dog, however, they decided they wouldn’t just sit around the house and cry. Instead, they determined to give Maverick one last really special day. And because the dog so loved “being loved on,” taking him to their local town center seemed the perfect choice. The only problem was that Maverick was now too weak and too sick to walk around on his own. So, the couple located a large wagon at Lowe’s and set out to get it.
In the aftermath of Hurricane Matthew, however, their local Lowe’s in DeLand, Florida was completely sold out of wagons. That is, until Maxwell told the store’s general manager what they planned to use the wagon for.
“Before I could even finish the story, this man picked the phone up out of his pocket and started calling other stores, saying this was absolute top priority. He needed this wagon right now,” Maxwell explained back in October. “Then he looked at me and said, ‘I got one. It’s coming. Can you be back in an hour?’”
When Maxwell and his wife returned, not only was there a large wagon waiting for them, but the employees at the store had already taken it out of the box and assembled it. The family took the wagon home, put Maverick’s memory-foam mattress and a couple of blankets on it, then placed their “precious cargo” on top.
“We took him to our small little town and had a big beautiful day out. We ate burgers and dog-friendly ice cream, and everyone loved on Maverick,” Maxwell said, beaming at the memory.
That day in October, they really thought that would be Maverick’s last day out — his last big adventure — but after all the kindness and positivity the dog experienced that day, not to mention the outpouring of love from around the world as his story spread, Maverick took a turn for the better, holding on for four more months.
Ever since Maverick’s passing, Maxwell says he and his wife have taken comfort in the tens of thousands of messages they’ve received from all around the world.
“Maverick inspired people to start each day anew, excited for the possibilities that lay ahead, no matter the obstacles that stood in their way,” says Maxwell. “Our hope is that he can continue to do just that each and every day. Because of that hope, we will continue posting Maverick’s stories and pictures on his Facebook page. ... While Maverick is no longer with us, he continues to be an inspiration and a reminder of how we should all love one another each and every day.”