After their rescued dog was diagnosed with terminal cancer, a DeLand, Florida, couple decided to make his final days as enjoyable as possible. They withdrew the last of their savings to purchase a wagon and took their ailing pup on an outing.
That outing really changed everything.
Joey Maxwell and his wife, Allison, adopted a golden retriever named Maverick in 2008 from an open-admission shelter in North Carolina. Maverick had been abandoned in the woods as a puppy and may have faced euthanasia if the Maxwells hadn’t adopted him in the nick of time.
“He had spent about three months alone, out in the woods,” Joey told The Dodo. “When we got him, he was absolutely skin and bones, but he was perfect.”
The couple described Maverick’s behavior as “spectacular” despite the trauma of his past, and enjoyed six happy years with the loving dog before they received devastating news.
Maverick was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2014. The Maxwells decided to help their beloved pet fight the disease, and after a course of chemotherapy, Maverick went into remission for two years.
However, unfortunately, in 2016, the cancer returned.
One fall morning, Joey and Allison woke up to find that Maverick couldn’t walk. “He laid there on the floor and could barely lift his head,” Joey recalled. “He wouldn’t eat or drink. He was shaking.”
Maverick’s veterinarian diagnosed anemia and low-grade fever; the dog spent a few days under the vet’s watchful eye, but his prognosis was not good. Maverick returned home to spend the remaining time he had left with his family.
Maverick was finally able to meet his hero, John Miller, at Lowe's Home Improvement yesterday! We spent an hour and a…
That was when Joey had the bright idea to take Maverick on a jaunt around town. “We wanted him to go out and do what he loves to do, and that’s being outside, getting attention,” said Joey. “He loves being loved.”
Despite struggling with Maverick’s mounting medical bills, Joey withdrew the last of his savings and headed to a local Lowe’s hardware store to buy a wagon big enough to fit Maverick, as he was too weak to walk on his own.
“His treatment in the ICU was very expensive and sort of wiped us out. So, the $130 for the wagon was really all I had left in the bank, but my wife and I decided Mav needed it more than we did,” Joey told CBS News.
The store had sold out of wagons in the wake of Hurricane Matthew; however, after Joey shared Maverick’s story to the store manager, Lowe’s pulled in a favor.
Staff located and assembled a wagon from a different site and gifted Joey a 50 percent discount. “I cried,” Joey told The Dodo, “and so did the cashier.”
Back at home, Joey embellished the wagon with a blanket and toys before positioning his ailing dog comfortably. Photos of Maverick’s wagon ride show the golden retriever looking calm and content with his tongue lolling out of his mouth as Joey pulls him along.
Maverick was even treated to hamburgers, “dog friendly ice cream,” and special dog treats on his outing, Joey told 9 News.
Joey thought the wagon ride would be Maverick’s last experience of the outside world, but to the dog owner’s astonishment, the ride revived him. “There was an instant transformation,” Joey explained to The Dodo. “So the next day we did the same thing.”
Before long, Maverick was a local celebrity. People stopped to say hello and wish the dog well, days turned into weeks, and Maverick began sitting on his own again. The vet even declared that he was in remission.
(Courtesy of Joey Maxwell)
Despite the dog’s renewed spirits, the cancer returned a third time in December 2016. However, Maverick lost his fight on Jan. 21, 2017. He was 9-and-a-half years old.
Remembering his beloved dog, Joey told People that he was “just magical” and described his peaceful passing. “[H]e had just laid down and simply gone to sleep,” Joey said. “He didn’t suffer, and that meant a lot.”
Reflecting on life with his grinning golden retriever, Joey told CBS News that Maverick continues to be an inspiration, reminding him every single day of how important it is for people to love one another.
Joey and Allison have since rescued another golden retriever. They named her Ellie. “She’s 3 years old and just as wonderful as Maverick,” Joey told The Epoch Times.
As of 2020, the Maxwells also have a daughter, who is fast approaching her second birthday. She and Ellie are the best of friends.
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