(NEW YORK) — The Westminster Dog Show is a celebration of canine entitlement. It is where purebreds are spritzed, shampooed, trimmed and blown dry, where they’re hand-fed steak, dressed in diapers and bowties and followed around with saliva zambonis, but Maverick is an exception. He was found on Craigslist.
“[He] was a rescue that was abused and neglected and in terrible shape,” Maverick’s owner, Dan Stallings, told ABC News.
Maverick’s previous owners kept him in a crate for years. He was so thin you could see his ribs. His nose was infected and he’d chewed his own tail raw, but Stallings nursed him back to health and their bond is now palpable.
Five months after rescuing Maverick, Stallings started entering him in shows, and Maverick started winning, making it to the biggest stage of all.
“I can’t even imagine [if he wins],” said Stallings. “That would really tear me up. I’d be so happy for him.”
As Stallings watched nervously, Maverick and his trainer paraded before the judge Tuesday. But in the end, the judge picked another dog.
“There’s my boy. There’s my boy,” Stallings said, petting Maverick after the defeat. “This is what it’s all about, every day.”
Stallings said he wasn’t disappointed because Maverick in a sense had already won. He had gone from forgotten to unforgettable.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Jackie Wattles and Amanda Barnett, CNN
Susan Scutti, CNN
Kristina Tieken, FamilyShare
Eliott C. McLaughlin, CNN