FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — If you are driving around Fort Leonard Wood on any given day, you might do a double-take while seeing two massive Great Danes walking around. Apache and Maverick are the unofficial mascots of Ft. Wood, working closely with the USO.
Five-year-old Maverick is a gentle giant says his owner Kelly Brownfield, “He weighs in at 200 pounds. He may have added on a little Covid weight.”
Maverick and his brother Apache, who weighs nearly 50 pounds more, are celebrities at Fort Leonard Wood. They are part of the USO Canine Program, a program dreamed up and started by Kelly Brownfield ten years ago.
Brownfield knew from day one it was a special service, “I knew from that day, it’s going to be amazing. I didn’t know it would continue to grow. I just thought that was it, it’s not going to get any better than that and it’s just continued to grow.”
In a day’s work, the dogs are the USO greeting committee. They are a listening ear to young readers. Maverick and Apache also do difficult jobs, like accompanying kids to burial sites after the loss of a parent.
“Maverick, as big as he is, is literally their rock to lean on.”
The USO Canine Program has become so successful, it will launch across USOs nationwide this summer.
Kelly is a hero in her own right, she is in the middle of her third battle with cancer in five years.
“Sometimes I forget I have cancer, and then sometimes I’m so tired,” explains Kelly.
You will find Maverick (and Apache) by Kelly’s side through all of the treatments, that will end in March of 2022. The dogs are a rock, that she too, can lean on. Maverick is in the running for Therapy Dog of the Year award. Wednesday, May 18 is the final day of voting for round one. You can vote for Maverick here.