Meet Maverick, this year’s winner of the American Humane Hero Dog Award
Before you read any further, locate a box of tissues or other absorbent material. American Humane announced the winner of this year’s Hero Dog Award on “Good Morning America,” and he is a top dog indeed.
Drumroll please: The 2023 American Humane Hero Dog is Maverick, a 6-year-old Great Dane from St. Robert, Missouri!
Maverick was nominated in the Therapy category for his work with the USO, where he helps members of the armed services and their families. His home base is Fort Leonard Wood, a Missouri Army installation.
He’s more than a mascot, though. Maverick is there for military folks during some of their worst moments.
In a September interview with the Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office, Maverick’s handler and base USO manager Kelly Brownfield described his work on “sensitive requests.”
These are the biggest jobs, ones perhaps only a Great Dane could shoulder — jobs like providing comfort for kids burying a parent, or standing vigil over a service member struggling with thoughts of suicide.
As Brownfield put it, Maverick “carries the weight of our nation’s heroes’ traumas, emotions and injuries, offering solace and comfort.”
As of September, Maverick had completed a total of 246 sensitive requests in his life; 61 were this year alone.
Fittingly, Maverick wears a vest decorated with military pins and patches from folks he’s helped over the years. Here he is proudly displaying his vest for his appearance on “Good Morning America”:
Maverick was one of five finalists for the Hero Dog award. The other pups represented categories like Military, Emerging Hero and Service and Guide.
The public was invited to vote for their favorite courageous canines in each category, then for their fave of the top five finalists. (A near-impossible task, I’d imagine.)
Maverick got the votes! And now he’s getting all the recognition he deserves for his steadfast personality and calm, loving presence.
Good boy, Maverick!