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My Best Friend Maverick

A Salute To My “Heart”

I brought him home as a birthday gift to my wife. It was 2009. I was facing a wall. My family and I were preparing for a “Hail Mary” trip to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center that I feared might be one way. I wanted to ensure that if that was the case, Robin was not left without a male presence in our home.

It was apparent though, from the moment he arrived. He was bound and determined That was not his mission. Right from day one, Maverick was my dog.

He would try desperately as a pup to jump up on the bed, big head and all.

Wherever I went, he was right there beside me. My Mom called him “My Heart Dog.” That’s what he was.

When I finally returned home from surgery, Maverick was right there waiting. He immediately took up his post. My loyal companion, my guardian, my Heart Dog, my Best Friend.

Everywhere I went, Maverick wanted to go. He travelled to Florida, the girls’ softball games, he even went camping. Maverick quickly discovered that camping meant dirt and bugs and rain. Maverick believed in comfort and treats. Maverick hated camping. He much preferred traveling in comfort.

Maverick believed that Dad’s chair was Maverick’s chair. He was just sharing.

Maverick led “Paw Patrol”. They all knew who was in charge.

“Give ‘Em Hell Maverick! You Give ‘Em Some Hell!”

Right to the end, Maverick always did.

Maverick wasn’t a hunter, but he knew all my hideouts. Many was the day where I’d be out back sitting or working, when who would appear? My best friend Maverick.

Sometimes he would even bring Diamond or the other dogs along.

“I KNEW you were out here Dad.”

He would just give me a grin and lay down beside me.

When Paw Patrol played fetch, every dog had a job. Maverick rarely chased after the frisbee or ball. Maverick’s job, as always, was to stand by my side, give the other dogs hell, and let them know who was in charge.

Maverick did have one big soft squeaky bone in the house that he loved. If someone threw it, he’d get some air grabbing it. He even used that bone as a weapon against the vacuum cleaner.

Maverick hated the vacuum cleaner. I believe his attacks broke at least three. He also hated the can opener, broom, lawn mower, snow blower…anything that moved, made any sort of sound, or had a motor.

“Get your chew Mav!” “Where’s your chew? Get It!”

Maverick would race around the house in a frenzy until he found some toy, then he would grab it in his mouth and shake it violently, growling, while the offending implement was in use. Frequently his attacks were so aggressively persistent, there was no choice but to ban his rage outside to the kennel.

Maverick loved treats. He knew treats came in “The Wolf”.

What do you want Mav? Who wants some Wolf?!

When the Wolf howled. Maverick always enthusiastically barked his approval.

But Maverick’s favorite were his “Ho-dogs.” “Who wants a Ho-dog!”

Maverick was not a good treat sharer and he ALWAYS went first.

Maverick was also the MASTER of “Just one More.” His least favorite phrases were “No more Mav.”, and “That’s enough.

Later in life, Maverick also developed a fondness for cheeseburgers. He did not like camping or hunting, and was always sad when I left. I would tell him;

“You be a good boy Mav, and hold down the fort. I’ll bring you a cheeseburger. You’re in charge ’til I get back.”

I would tell him how long I would be gone. I swear he could tell time and read a calendar, because on the scheduled day of my return, Maverick would hold out on dinner;

“Dad’s coming home today. He’s bringing me a cheeseburger.”

The other thing Maverick liked most besides cheeseburgers and Ho-dogs was naps. He loved his special spot in my den, Maverick’s “throne”. He loved to snuggle up against his big stuffed tiger that RJ won in a carnival game one year at Busch Gardens. He would lay there beside me and watch TV for hours. Sometimes when I went outside to work, I would turn on the TV and Maverick would lay in my den and watch History Channel or the News.

Maverick always held me to account. Every evening, when it was time for me to stop doing what I was doing, and paying attention to Maverick, he let me know it, in no uncertain terms. At about 7:30 pm, he’d bark out the order: “Time to get off that darn computer Dad, and head down to our den.”

Maverick would then follow me down to our den and plop down on his tiger. We’d watch TV, talk about our day, share some treats, and take an evening nap together.

Maverick’s final year became a real struggle. Robin, Abby and my Mom really stepped in to care for him. In order to remain by my side, he fought on. It became tough for everyone, but especially for Maverick. He fought on though, to stay by my side. Through it all, he battled.

Maverick and I continued to take care of each other. I carried him up and down the steps to “do his job”. I’d make him special gourmet breakfasts, sometimes even served in bed. I’d bring him water when I knew he was thirsty but not up to the effort to walk to his bowl.

As Christmas 2020 neared, I knew the end was in sight. Maverick and I spent a lot of time together, having our own private chats.

“You’ve done a good job, Maverick. You’ve always been “My Good Boy, Mav”. You’ve been the best “Best Friend”.”

I asked one more thing of him, before he departed.

“Mav, hold on through Christmas, boy. RJ’s coming home. Please hold on through Christmas, Boy, one more time as a family. Then I promise, you can rest.”

I know Maverick heard me, understood, and held on. Christmas came, Paw Patrol posed for one more photo. With Antlers! Maverick sat beside me contentedly with his head on my leg the whole time.

But that was it, Maverick had given all that he had. He’d done his job. He’d taken care of me for twelve years. He was completely worn out and tired. I knew what I had to do. He deserved to go to Dog Heaven in peace with his dignity intact. Maverick had kept his promise. I knew I owed it to my Best Friend to keep mine.

I’ve been struggling without him. It’s been hard. His absence leaves a gaping hole in my world. I find myself wandering around lost sometimes, wondering “Where’s Maverick?” Expecting to look down and see him miraculously lying there beside me.

I take comfort in knowing that in up Dog Heaven he’s happy and whole. He’s reunited with Diamond. He tells me; “Dad, it’s awesome here! Look at me! I found Diamond! I can run and play again! I’m Maverick!”

The other thing I’ve realized as days since his departure have passed. I think one of the things that made Maverick’s decision to go to Dog Heaven easier was the arrival of our newest pup Maizee Mae Monroe.

Maverick went knowing he was leaving his family in good hands.


Until Our Trails Cross Again:




Forever My Heart Dog & Best Friend