How a very good dog named Maverick is helping a local vet escape the lingering effects of war
BY BRIAN HICKEY
July 2, 2019
Geoff Dempsey was haunted by things he saw in Afghanistan, but an 18-month old canine lightened his mental loadIn late April, Geoff Dempsey flew from Philadelphia to Florida knowing he would soon meet his new best friend without any idea who, exactly, that was.
BRIAN HICKEY/PHILLYVOICE Geoff Dempsey said he felt an instant connection with Maverick, a black-and-tan lab who helps him escape a shell brought about by PTSD stemming from his service with the U.S. Marines in Afghanistan.
He and six other veterans – each still troubled by their time in the service – waited in line. One by one, they walked outside of K9s for Warriors headquarters in Ponte Verde for the big moment.
There, the 30-year-old, who served for five years including an eight-month tour in Afghanistan with his fellow U.S. Marines, was introduced to Maverick, a one-and-a-half-year-old black-and tan lab. They hit it off on the spot.
That connection was clearly evident when the duo arrived at Philadelphia’s Fitler Square Park two months later to talk about a non-profit program that matches veterans with “life-changing service dogs.”
In Dempsey’s case, it was all about being saddled with post-traumatic stress disorder related to his military service.
“He was licking me, sniffing me. I felt an instant connection,” he recalled with a smile on Monday morning, with Maverick at his side. “It was clear that he had a lot of love to give.
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