DELAND (FOX 13) - When Joey and Allison Maxwell found out their beloved golden retriever, Maverick had lymphoma for the second time, they were worried but optimistic.
Since chemotherapy doesn't make dogs sick the way it does humans, the Maxwells were eager to get Maverick started on treatments so he could begin to feel better, but when it seemed the chemo wasn't working and Maverick was going into decline, the Maxwells prepared for the worst.
"They sent us home from the vet last week for home hospice care. We were planning on just a couple of days with our big guy. That's why we bought the wagon," Joey told FOX 13 News. "We wanted to give him one last big night."
Joey said Maverick lost physical control of his back legs, indicating the cancer may have spread to his back.
"He's had back problems for a while, and we believed that this was an extension of the cancer," Joey said.
So the Maxwells went to Lowes to buy a wagon to take Maverick for a big day on the town. It was going to cost around $130 to buy a wagon large enough to carry Maverick, which was a steep bill considering the cost of Maverick's treatment at the vet. And since Hurricane Matthew had just made its way up Florida's east coast, the store was out of the one they needed, anyway.
After hearing Maverick's story, however, the manager at Lowes knew he couldn't let them leave without getting what they needed. Joey said the manager made some calls and, just like that, they found one. The wagon was brought over from another location and when Joey went to pay, he got another surprise. They had given the Maxwells a generous discount, without even being told about any financial concerns.
Joey said it was a very special moment and he almost broke down right there at the register.
After getting the wagon, there was nothing left to do but make Maverick comfortable and head out for their adventure. They took him for burgers and dog-friendly ice cream. Maverick got attention and love from his friends in downtown Deland. And his humans got to make some memories to cherish for a lifetime.
But then the Maxwells got another surprise. In the coming days, Maverick began to show some improvements.
"It was very unexpected. The next day, he showed a little improvement, and has gotten a little better everyday since!" Joey Maxwell said. "We went from waking up every few minutes to see if he was breathing, to sleeping soundly until he wakes us up needing to go potty!"
If that wasn't enough, it turns out Maverick's back problems may not have been related to the cancer, after all.
"We visited his vet a few days ago and she discovered that his lower limb issues were from a degenerative nerve issue, and not at all related to the cancer. It was the best news ever! I can deal with a handicapped pup!" Maxwell said.
Since his story has been told by media outlets across the country, Maverick has continued to improve. The Maxwells put him in his doggy wheelchair for walks in the mild Florida fall weather. He's even chasing a few tennis balls. Joey Maxwell said he thinks the exercise is helping his recovery along, as well.
Joey and Allison Maxwell are posting updates about Maverick's progress on their Facebook page, Everyone Loves Maverick. https://www.facebook.com/everybodylovesmaverick/
They have also set up a GoFundMe.com page to help with Maverick's medical bills. https://www.gofundme.com/everybodylovesmav