WARSAW — He has gone unnoticed in a courtroom, can be seen roaming the halls of the Justice Building, has a special couch in the prosecutor’s office. But more importantly, he has helped wipe away the tears and brought smiles to those going through emotional times or just need a pick up.
Maverick, a therapy canine that works with the Kosciusko County Prosecutor’s Office, has his own unique story that may explain his third sense of people who need comforting. “There’s something different about Maverick,” many are heard saying.
The 5-year-old German shepherd was rescued as a 7-month-old puppy from an abusive owner. He only weighed 14 pounds. Maverick was evidence and became the property of the sheriff’s department until the owner could be prosecuted. Mike and Tracy Wilson took him in, nursed him back to health. It wasn’t long before Maverick’s true character was shown.
Wilson, who was then county coroner and worked for McHatton-Sadler, would bring Maverick to work with him. One day Maverick went into the chapel and sat next to a grieving person. “We realized then he had care and compassion. He doesn’t want anyone crying. He absorbs their tears,” Wilson said. “He migrates to those who are stressful.”
Maverick then began his therapy dog training. He graduated from the Alliance of Therapy Dogs, Wabash, and was employed through the prosecutor’s pretrial diversion program, an account generated entirely through court fees. No taxpayers dollars are used on Maverick.
Maverick makes visits to the Justice Building when needed to time allows, maybe as much as two or three times a week or as little as once a month. “When we go by (the building) and we don’t stop, he whines,” Wilson said.
Maverick’s most important job is with the victim’s assistance program and the firefighter critical incident stress management team. He has been in the courtroom, quietly doing his job. In one court case involving juveniles, Maverick entered the courtroom climbed up on a chair and put his head in the lap of a distraught adult for the entire proceeding. The judge wasn’t aware until after the proceedings and was pleased Maverick was there to help.
Linda Giusti, victim’s assistance coordinator, stated “he calms everybody down. He’s fantastic.” Gousti has many special stories of the help Maverick has provided.
“We use him a lot,” Giusti said. “Basically more for children, for them to be able to relax and share things. They tell him. It’s easier for them to relate.”
Maverick’s sense of who needs him is something people have to see. “If you don’t see it, you don’t get it,” Mike Wilson said. “He knows what it is to be in pain. He was a victim himself and was given a special gift,” Giusti stated.
Maverick also makes visits to the county’s communication’s center. He walks the halls of the Justice Building with a special vest, that proudly says “I’m friendly, please pet me.” You may even find him wanting to wait on you at the counter for child support enforcement.
It’s at this office he brightens the day of the staff. He visits each staff member, who all have treats for him. They all make sure he gets his ears scratched and his belly rubbed.
“It makes us smile,” said one staff member with another stating “It helps us relax during the day for a few minutes. We enjoy him, he’s a nice loving dog.”