Unforgettable: The story of Maverick

When you think of a champion show dog, the kind who eventually makes his way to the upper echelons of Westminster, a certain life arc comes to mind. A pampered pooch, born with much pomp and circumstance, raised lovingly by a person ready to groom them from day one for a life in the spotlight. A dog who knows little of pain and neglect, attended to like a celebrity from the get-go. And for the most part, you’d be right.

Then again, Maverick isn’t like most dogs.

Sure, he started life with all the right underpinnings: born to a breeder of champion Weimaraners, he began his journey with a man on the West Coast who planned to show him. But his owner lost his house, and that’s when Maverick’s life took a sad detour.

Rather than contact the breeder, who had been trying to track them down with no success, Maverick’s owner sold him on Craigslist to a family on the East Coast who was unprepared for life with a large dog. The man who bought Maverick liked Weimaraners, but spent a lot of time away from home. His wife, busy with the children, had little time or patience for a young dog. So Maverick spent the next year and a half in a crate in an apartment, chewing himself raw with boredom and stress. No walks, no training, a body deprived of both physical and emotional nourishment. 

The family eventually ended up listing him, once again, on Craigslist in February 2010. The listing caught the eye of Dan Stallings, who runs the mid-Atlantic Weimaraner rescue. Stallings, who knew little about the world of dog fancy, was shocked when he first laid eyes on the supposed show dog.

“He was about twenty pounds underweight,” Stallings said, “with sores all over his body. He looked so bad I was sure he had heartworms or some other health problem.” Horrified, Stallings immediately took Maverick under his wing. He remembers Maverick’s first trip to the vet, holding him down while the technicians trimmed his overgrown toenails so he could walk normally. “That’s my new show dog,” he said to the staff, who looked askance at the emaciated, struggling dog. To Stallings’ amazement, aside from a staph infection Maverick was in good health. “All of that,” he says with sadness, “was just the result of neglect.”

Stallings gently nursed Maverick back to health, adding twenty pounds to his frame and helping him learn to trust people. Several months later, Maverick had transformed into a robust dog with a wonderful gait and presence. With the encouragement of friends who showed dogs, Stallings found a handler experienced with the breed, and Maverick hit the show ring.

Stallings wasn’t expecting a lot. He certainly wasn’t expecting Maverick to start winning big right from the start. He had certain issues with crating that meant Stallings had to deliver him ringside before each show- “I’m not going to sacrifice his health or well-being for a show,” he says- but within just a few months, Maverick had won his first five point major, a huge deal in this sport. After a year and a half, he was on the road to national shows.

In December, Maverick made the trip to Orlando for the AKC/Eukanuba dog show. “When I got the invitation to the Eukanuba show, I thought, ‘Are you kidding me?'” said Stallings. After making the cut at that event, Maverick made his way to New York for Westminster.

I met Stallings and Maverick in the lobby at the Hotel Pennsylvania the morning of the show. In a lobby filled with champion dogs and dog lovers to mingle with, people were drawn to him like moths to a lightbulb. I watched as group after group approached the duo, drawn by the soulful way Maverick watched Stallings’ every move. Every time he stood up, Maverick would raise his large frame and sink his paws into Stallings’ shoulders for a hug.

There are bonds, and then there are bonds.

As the curious approached for a closer look, Maverick would glance over, letting strangers run their fingers over his glossy coat, then return to watching Stallings. To each new group, Stallings would share Maverick’s amazing story, drawing them in to show them the small scar on his tail that never completely healed from his earlier trauma. Soon a small crowd had gathered, to a one moved by his story in a way rarely seen in a world that is sometimes jaded.

Dan Stallings talks about Maverick to a passerby in the Hotel Penn lobby at Westminster.

Stallings continues to be a tireless rescue advocate, reminding people that no matter a dog’s background or his accomplishments in life, they’re all worthy of love so they can become who they were meant to be. “He’s some ambassador, isn’t he?” chuckled Stallings as four cameraphones were pointed Maverick’s way. “That’s my boy.”

Later that day, Maverick entered the ring of one of the most prestigious shows in the world. He’s come a long way from his days in a cramped apartment. He didn’t win at Westminster, a fact that bothers Stallings not in the least. “I want him to be happy and healthy,” he said. “Everything else is just gravy.” At home, he’s Maverick, and in the ring, he’s living up to his official call name: Grand Champion Anson’s Unforgettable.

For more about Maverick and his upcoming book, check out his Facebook page!

Filed: Be The Change, Blog, Happy Tails Tagged: , ,
  • Vonny

    Contrast this story with your post about your friends who went to great lengths to educate themselves about owning a dog, even before they got one.

    Some people’s stupidity and lack of foresight is astounding, from Maverick’s original owner not contacting the breeder, to the next owners for whom it was apparently too much trouble to even feed the poor dog properly. The picture of the dog with all his bones showing is distressing.

    I’m glad to read there was a happy ending in this case. Maverick is a beautiful animal and obviously healthy and happy in his current home. +1 to Mr.Stallings and an ear scratch for Maverick.

  • *big watery sigh* Oh. So glad this has such a wonderful happy ending for Maverick. I am willing to bet all of Stallings hard work is repaid with such devotion and love from that beautiful baby. Thank you for sharing this story.

  • Doodle96

    I just loved this story!!! I am a dog lover….probably from birth…and I read this with tears in my eyes. This man is an angel. Just an angel.

  • Sue W.


    • Sue W.


  • Lisa W

    I’m with Michelle — big watery sigh. What a great story!

  • Anonymous

    Ditto on the tears.

    Maverick is absolutely gorgeous! I have been reading about him and seeing him on the news lately, and his story is ceratinly one that deserves to be told. What a great team Dan and Maverick make.

  • Tamara

    Oh, tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat. There is no doubt that Maverick already knows he’s won everything there is to win – his own beloved person who will care for him and provide for him always. No other prize matters compared to that, whether rescued animal or pampered from the start 🙂

  • Awe, what a cute face! He was able to get in contact with the original breeder then (to be able to know they were trying to reach the original guy) ? Was he chipped, is that how he knew or did the papers travel with the dog and he was the only one who bothered to contact the breeder? Just curious about the details. I had a friend who bred Huskies and always had them chipped, and one day she found one of her’s in a shelter, the owner had not even bothered to tell her, either. I don’t get that, if you have someone willing to help and take the dog back, why would you leave it to an uncertain fate?

    • He came with papers and was able to find the breeder, who was ecstatic that he was ok, and devastated about what had happened in the interim.

    • “I don’t get that, if you have someone willing to help and take the dog back, why would you leave it to an uncertain fate?”
      I totally agree – but it’s not that uncommon. I know several breeders and also a few rescues who have found out that dogs they placed in supposedly loving homes later wound up being resold or given away without consent, or were dumped at shelters. My theory is that people are ashamed to admit that they they were wrong about being able to care for the dog, or they are ashamed to admit that their life situation has changed and they can no longer afford to keep it. Or, in some cases, the people get so frustrated with the dog they just don’t care anymore.

  • Steph

    Oh, the tears, they won’t stop flowing. Our fourth child is a wiemie, and they are so full of love and understanding. God bless Mr. Stallings for loving this sweet little
    boy. Maverick, you are one handsome weimaraner!

  • Jenny Benedict

    Maverick is one lucky dog because the right person took control and made his life what it was meant to be in the first place. As the Pit Boss once said, all dogs should live what ever time they have left in the best of care with love and vet care. The Pit Boss on one of his shows found an old dog that had about 6 months to live and he found a good home for that dog too. They all need and want someone to love and love them back. Lets all help the cause in any way we can.

  • JaneK

    thanks for sharing…. somedays I just can’t get over thinking about all the neglected pets and children in this world….. but am glad to know of one happy ending

  • Jenny Benedict

    To Jane K, While you are thinking about all the pets and children who are not well cared for, add the elderly to your list. I think all 3, pets, kids, and the elderly need cared for and watched out for more than anyone. I hear all too often about all 3 being neglected and abused. Lets do our part 🙂

  • Claudia Souders

    Great story & beautiful dog!

  • Phillyfisher

    “…reminding people that no matter a dog’s background or his accomplishments in life, they’re all worthy of love so they can become who they were meant to be.” Truer words never spoken Dr. V. I am struck how this can be said of people as well…

  • Cathey

    Such an awesome story! I have one for you, too, http://www.kwwl.com/story/17074168/12-cocker-spaniels-from-alleged-iowa-puppy-mill-adopted There were 80 cocker spaniels seized from horrible situation earlier this year. This past weekend the the first 12 found homes. Just another reminder that there are WONDERFUL dogs out there waiting to be someones best friend.

  • Oh boy, what a great story. Thanks for sharing. I just love a happy ending and it doesn’t hurt that Maverick is beautiful.

  • Kristen Seymour

    Incredible story — so glad you shared!

  • statelymeadows

    Great rescue story. And I LOVE the photos in the post, they’re beautiful!

  • Anonymous

    How gorgeous is Maverick!!!! To think how challenging it must have been for Maverick to survive and keep hope alive that someone truly responsible and loving would ultimately come along to give him the care he deserves. And I give Dan Stallings a lot of credit for putting Maverick’s needs first and foremost (“I’m not going to sacrifice his health or well-being for a show,” “I want him to be happy and healthy” and “Everything else is just gravy). The 2 of them look like they’re in love. So sweet to see.

  • Debmcd62

    Wow what a story. So happy for Maverick!
    My husband and I adopted a rescue Weimeraner 6 months ago that was 2 1/2 years of age. We love her just as much as the one we raised from a puppy and had for 11 wonderful years!

  • Fe

    Marvelous story! We ‘rescued’ a puppy (probably the runt of the litter) from a pet store in Alpharetta GA wondering what kind of breeder would relegate a lovely Weimaraner like that to a pet store. Transpired she had an intestinal problem and never put on weight even after treatment until we brought her to the Caribbean where she stole and ate a vegetable dish for 14 off the table at a party. She never looked back, problem cured overnight and after 4 years of vegetables was able to move on to a normal diet.
    She’s a very loving and loved 5 year old worth all our patience and her faith in living.