if Maverick, a 150-pound Great Dane, places his paw on someone’s lap because that person needs him to do so. As a therapy dog, his jobs include comforting members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their families, and placing his paw on the person he is trying to comfort.
“The sign that defines a good therapy dog is the fact that the animal always wants to touch the person,” explains Kelly Brownfield, owner Maverick, who lives in St. Robert, Missouri, is the director of the United Service Organizations Club at Fort Leonard Wood, a space that receives officers from the U.S. Armed Forces on assignments overseas. “He just knows what people need,” he adds.
When a soldier dies Maverick He accompanies his children to their funerals, and also visits his remaining army colleagues after an unexpected loss in their units. In addition, each week he spends time with students in schools, especially children with special needs.
Although the dog may seem intimidating at first given its size, Kelly says it’s okay Maverick that it “Literally a gentle giant.” “His entire aura calms down,” he asserts. Plus, he says, “it’s the perfect size” for therapy dog activities. “He’s literally people’s rock; they can count on him and he’s there for them. And his heart is, too.”
On November 6, the six-year-old gentle giant was selected from among hundreds of other dogs and named “Champion Dog.” 2023 From American Humane, a non-profit animal welfare organization.
For dogs to receive American Hero of Humanity Award, North American residents are tasked with nominating hundreds of these animals each year into five categories: security forces and first aid dogs; Service, guide or assistance dogs; therapy dogs; Emerging champion military dogs and shelter dogs. In September, a winner was chosen for each and the five finalists then competed for the final title of Hero Dog.
Maverick– who won the therapy dog category and beat out the other four finalists, including a service dog moxy, k-9 buddha, From the Coast Guard, emerging hero Our opinion And the police dog Anemone– He was selected by a panel of judges to be the winner of the competition.
American Humane is known for ensuring that no animals used in film or television productions are “harmed.” The organization has been awarding the Champion Dog title since 2011 to animals that “make the world a kinder place,” says Robin Ganzert, president and CEO. “Putting the four-legged heroes who live among us in the spotlight is part of this mission,” he adds.
Rick Morris, a former sergeant who retired in 2006 after serving in the U.S. Army for 23 years, was present in April at his nephew Rustin’s funeral. Smith KWho died in a helicopter crash in March.
Rustin was 32 years old and had three children. Maverick He was with them at their farewell party saint Mosques. “He knew they needed to see him,” he recalls. “The kids latched on to him.” Rick lives near Fort Leonard Wood and often sees the dog in action in support of the military.
“I see that the heaviness and burden that any soldier faces disappears when they see him. They smile and rejoice, and their faces and postures change.” In addition, the dog served as emotional support for his owner, who had been fighting B-cell lymphoma for six years and undergoing chemotherapy.
“I really think he knew it before anyone else,” says Kelly, 43, explaining that the Great Dane seemed particularly affectionate, sensitive and protective in the months leading up to the diagnosis. “Having him there, especially on the tough days, has been a great support.”
Maverick He also faced a cancer diagnosis in 2022 and underwent a successful surgical intervention. At this moment, he is free of disease.
The daughter of an Air Force member and an overseas guidance counselor for the military school system, Kelly grew up in the military community and in 2009 joined the United Services Organization (USO) to provide emotional support to the military.
“I can combine my love of the military with my love of animals,” he explains, adding that he has another Great Dane who also serves as a therapy dog. ApacheHe is three years old and weighs 108 kilograms.
In 2016, Maverick He came into this woman’s life and, he says, “melted her heart instantly.” Kelly has had other working dogs, and spent a year training the USO’s new “champion dog,” which he began doing the same in 2017. Since then, he has worked as an assistance dog for the USO. Fort Leonard Wood was the first post to start a pilot of the organization’s canine program in 2012, and it launched worldwide this year.
“like Maverick“Military members and families know they have a friend they can turn to when needed,” said J.D. Crouch, CEO and president of the USO. One of the dog’s strengths is sitting with elementary school students who are having difficulty learning to read. “He won’t be there to judge people. He brings down the barrier and makes them develop,” the owner explains.
Although he spends most of his time in Missouri, the dog occasionally travels cross-country for work. At Kelley, they have fielded hundreds of special assignment requests over the years.
On October 4th, Kelly W Maverick They were in the North American capital for a week to promote the USO’s therapy dog program. The Great Dane also spent time with families at Fort Meade Army Base and accompanied some people to the graves of their loved ones at Arlington National Cemetery. According to the owner, having a therapy dog around “can help change lives,” as the animal “feels what each person needs.”
To celebrate the designation of American Humane’s Hero Dog for 2023, Maverick The other four finalists will go to Palm Beach, Florida, for the awards ceremony, which will be held on November 23, Thanksgiving, and November 26, on A&E Television.
“It’s a great way to show the good that animals can do,” sums up the owner.
Exclusively in general/the Washington Post
“Hardcore alcohol maven. Hipster-friendly analyst. Introvert. Devoted social media advocate.”