He wasn’t the first
four-legged friend to spend time at the Home Office, but he was the first to
actually work while he was there.
For most of us, taking a nap while on the clock would result
in some form of disciplinary action. For a special few, it’s part of a normal
day at the office. Such was life for Maverick, Walmart’s beloved safety dog who
earned every second he spent napping thanks to his years of tireless service to
the company and the community.
Born October 21, 2002, Maverick arrived in Bentonville in
May of 2003. By June, he was getting his first taste of Shareholders, though
not as an officer. For his first Shareholders, Maverick was there solely to
begin the process of socialization as he and Patty Morgan began their
How Maverick Came to
Call Bentonville Home
Patty, the pioneer behind Walmart’s K9 program, became
interested in canine resources after 9/11. In the process of researching, she
discovered that there were two schools of thought on the subject – one which
focused on affable dogs with welcoming appearances and one which focused on
strong dogs with an appearance that lent itself to deterrence.
What was important to Walmart associates, and thus to Patty,
was deterrence, so she set about selling the idea of a German Shepherd.
Ultimately, she prevailed and Maverick joined the team as Walmart’s only
official four-legged associate. First, though, he had to undergo training.
Training for a K9 officer is a tad more rigorous than for
the average dog. K9s cannot stop with sit and stay. They have to be able to
climb ladders and take steps on command. There are also the supplies necessary
to training a dog that can detect explosives which, for obvious reasons, aren’t
readily available to the public at large.
A Helping Hand, and a
That’s where the Bentonville Police Department stepped in.
Officer Guary Morgan, the K9 handler for the force, agreed to let Patty and
Maverick train with him and his dog so that Maverick could learn detection.
Training wasn’t just about detection and obedience, though.
It was also about the growing bond between Patty and Maverick. It grew as Maverick
grew into a quite capable officer. In fact, his progress was faster than
It was 2004 and Maverick was officially on duty, sweeping
Barnhill Arena in preparation for Shareholders. As he searched the coaches’
office, he sat down in front of a cabinet, his passive indication that there
was something amiss in that cabinet. But Patty didn’t believe him.
He searched the room again and once more alerted in front of
the same spot. Patty again doubted Maverick, but went to Guary for his opinion.
After a gentle scolding for not rewarding Maverick for doing his job, Guary sent
in his dog DJ to sweep the room. DJ sat down in the same spot. Maverick, it seemed, was correct and there
was something amiss.
Thankfully, it wasn’t an explosive device. What they
discovered was that above the cabinet was a shelf and an air vent; on top of the
shelf, a starter pistol and a box of rounds. The vent was blowing the smell
from that starter pistol down to that spot and making the dogs think that the
something suspicious they were smelling was inside the cabinet.
A Lover of His Fellow
Animals, If Not Big Red
From there, Maverick went on to many more years of service,
whether patrolling Year Beginning Meetings or sweeping a green room before First Lady Laura Bush
arrived. He worked Razorback football games despite his aversion to Big Red,
the giant inflatable mascot. He took part in Maverick Days at The Walmart
Museum in which he posed for pictures and helped kids learn about the
importance of safety.
Through all his service, though, Maverick remained a dog. He
loved horses, his ball, and visits with Patty’s mom – aka “Grandma.” Most of
all, he loved being Patty’s companion. He was there with her as she pioneered
the program, he was the animal that taught her just how close the bond between
human and animal could be.
Maverick wasn’t the
only animal around the house. His family included two other dogs and one cat. Today,
though, that family looks different than it once did. Now only Merlin and Kate, those two dogs, and
Francois Pierre, the Abyssian cat, still roam the house. Maverick, the constant
for so many years, cannot be found curled in his bed anymore, having passed in
December 2015. But Maverick isn’t truly gone. In spirit, he remains where he’s
been since 2003 – by Patty’s side, reminding her of their shared bond and