Max Dickson grew up in London. Like many young people, he struggles with anxiety and depression. In 2017, he decided he needed a change of scenery and took off to Costa Rica.
But he couldn’t outrun his demons.
“I was in Costa Rica for a month and had finished the honeymoon period,” he said. “I was attempting to get adjusted and all the good was starting to go and I was getting to a place where I didn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel. I was really on the edge.”
Dickson was lost - just like the stray dog he found roaming the streets of Santa Teresa.
“She was running around my favorite pizza place down there and the owner was trying to get her out. So I picked her up and she was this poor little puppy, like seven or eight pounds and I was like, ‘I’m going to take her up and take care of her.’”
In each other, Dickson and Chica found themselves - and together, they began to heal.
“She was quite the aggressive dog. She would bite everyone. But I felt similar to her in some way. I had trust issues as well with many people. She was quite the amusement to me,” he said. “I think the majority of people who are going through depression, when it gets to a certain stage, they start losing their passions and they stop doing the things that give them enjoyment and give them a purpose. I reached that state where I wasn’t doing anything with my life. It was like Groundhog Day every single day. So when I found Chica, it gave me something to do.”
After six months in Costa Rica, Dickson felt it was time to move on. With family in Indiana, he decided to test the Midwest. He enrolled in culinary school and got a job as a cook.
From scrounging for scraps on the street to sipping pup cups at the local coffee shop, life was looking up for both Dickson and Chica.
One day, while walking Downtown Indianapolis, Chica spotted something and took off.
“It was about a 300 meter chase when she broke free and started running. It seemed like she was chasing a squirrel, but all I could really see were the cars going in front of her path.”
One of those cars belonged to Colts cornerback Kenny Moore, who was on his way back from a community event.
“I had just finished giving out turkeys at Lucas Oil Stadium my rookie year. I was driving home,” he said. “I was at a light. I was doing what I always do - singing in the car and as soon as the light turned green, this car floors it, a dog runs out and the car runs over it. You could just hear the dog crying. It was awful. I froze up. I stopped the car. I was like, ‘I know someone else is going to stop to check on the dog.’ But the traffic kept going. It was up to me.”
With a broken pelvis, Chica couldn’t use her back legs and Moore was worried she would get hit by another car. At that point, Dickson ran up.
“I was in such shock. I didn’t know where to go or what to do,” he said. “I was just holding Chica while in tears and Kenny just drove up behind me, jumped out of the car, and offered to take me to the hospital.”
Chica needed help fast. And Moore knew it.
“I’m just like, ‘Get in the truck. Let’s go!’ I didn’t know anything about Indy, I didn’t know where to go - but luckily, we’ve got smartphones,” he said.
The first vet couldn’t treat Chica, but referred them to one who could.
By then, Moore was committed.
“I was like, ‘I am going to get this dog to a vet. You just let me know where I need to go and I’m going.’”
Meanwhile, the clock was ticking and every minute counted.
“I wanted to just call my mom before I did anything else, but I couldn’t. It was all on me,” said Moore. “I was speeding on 65 South and every bump I rolled over, the dog got louder. I felt like I wasn’t making the situation any better, but I had to do what I had to do.”
Two strangers brought together by fate, the only thing Dickson knew about Moore was that he was in the right place at the right time and had the heart to stop and help.
“By the end of the car ride, we had a short conversation. He said, ‘So, you go to school around here?’ And I said, ‘Yeah, I go to culinary school and I work a job as a cook.’ And I said, ‘What about you?’ And he said, ‘I play for the Indianapolis Colts.’ That was kind of mind blowing to me.”
Moore knew little more about Dickson.
“He just kept thanking me and he kept saying that the dog had saved his life. I didn’t know what was going on,” he said. “I was just like, ‘Max, I got you.’”
When they arrived at the next vet, Kenny could see the connection between Dickson and Chica.
“They came out with a stretcher. Chica didn’t want to leave Max and vice versa.”
Moore didn’t want to leave either.
“I wanted to stay at the hospital and wait, but he was like, ‘I’m sure there’s something else you need to do. I’ll figure it out. I’ll give you a call later and let you know how everything goes.’”
Moore waited on pins and needles, contemplating what he calls “the craziest thing that has ever happened to me.”
When he heard Chica was going to make it, he was grateful and relieved.
“I had done something to really help someone else,” he said. And I found out that if the dog had gotten to the vet 10 or 15 minutes later, she would have passed away.”
With his big heart and quick action, Moore saved Chica’s life - and possibly her owner’s.
In a blog post published by Dickson’s father, Drew Dickson publicly thanked Moore and shed light on his son’s struggles - struggles Moore knew nothing about.
“It just goes back to that saying - be nice to everybody because you don’t know what they’re going through. I would never have guessed he was going through something like that in his life. I was just glad that I could be that relief.”
For Dickson, Moore continues to be a source of comfort and inspiration.
“I think there’s this whole perception that professional athletes have better things to do and they don’t give time to normal people. But it’s not true. For the 100 people who drove by, it was Kenny who stopped.”
Even now that he’s living in Florida, the two continue to talk and text. Last season, Moore invited Dickson up to a Colts game and took him to dinner afterwards.
Brought together by a dog in need, both men are shocked by the attention.
“I just put the whole story in my back pocket and I really never wanted to talk about it again,” Moore said. “But we all know this world needs a lot more positivity.”
Moore doesn’t think about what might have happened had he not stopped to help that day - because for him, that wasn’t an option.
For countless people, it was easier to just drive by.
But Kenny Moore isn't one of those people.
“It would have been hard for me - knowing I could have done something about it, that I could have given my time," he said. "And that’s all Max wanted from me. He never asked for a single dime.”
But what he walked away with was priceless.
“This has restored my faith in humanity.”
When Max Dickson was in a bad place, a dog came along and changed his life.
When the dog was in a bad place, Kenny Moore came along and changed its life.
People can learn a lot from man's best friend.
And people can learn a lot from Kenny Moore.