Every dog is a good boy or girl but, sometimes, there are pups who especially deserve recognition. That’s where American Humane comes in — every year, they do a nationwide search for the most heroic dogs. There are five categories: Emerging Hero and Shelter Dogs, Law Enforcement and First Responder Dogs, Military Dogs, Service and Guide/Hearing Dogs, and Therapy Dogs. I’m happy to introduce to you the hero dog of the Therapy category in 2023: Maverick.
This 150-pound European blue great Dane doesn’t know a stranger. Every single person he meets falls in love with him. That’s why he’s so perfectly suited for his role at the USO Therapy Dog Program.
Kelly Brownfield, who created the organization, sees firsthand the ways in which Maverick changes lives for the better. Growing up a military brat, she has a soft spot for folks in the military as well as their families. And so USO Therapy Dog Program was born, providing countless people with life-saving help.
“I’m excited to work for an organization that’s let me combine my passion for animals with my passion for service members and families,” Kelly says.
Maverick has and continues to play a huge role in the organization. He often sits in on suicide watches, and countless soldiers have later thanked this sweet dog in particular for helping them get through such dark times in their lives.
Maverick the Great Dane Earns Title of Hero Dog 2023
Maverick himself has gone through tough times. When Kelly was diagnosed with cancer, he was there for her. And when he was diagnosed with cancer himself in 2022, their roles were reversed.
No matter what’s going on, Maverick doesn’t hesitate to be there for the humans he loves. Once, while at a funeral for the late Philip Tackett, he expressed an astonishing level of empathy and understanding of what was going on.
“We went to give our respects to Phil, and he smelled Phil’s hand and just laid his chin on the casket,” Kelly recalls. “But then he went right from Phil and he knew what his job was — he stood there by Phil’s wife, Paula, as long as she needed.”
In addition to comforting those with connections to the military, Maverick also visits schools. There, he comforts kids who need it most, often listening to them while they read.
Truly, it’s no wonder this sweet boy is a hero dog of the year!
“I try to tell him every night just how special he is, not only to me, but to the world,” Kelly says.
Watch the video below to learn more about Maverick, the life-saving hero dog of 2023.
You can find the source of this story’s featured image here!
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