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Max ‘The Miracle Dog’ awarded ’animal OBE‘ for virtual therapy work in the outdoors

Springer Spaniel Max awarded with PDSA honour
Springer Spaniel Max proudly wearing his PDSA Order of Merit medal in the Lake District (Image credit: PDSA)

A 13-year-old from the Lake District, who has simply been enjoying himself this past year, doing what he's always done, has won himself a major award.

English Springer Spaniel Max's adventures have been documented to 200,000 followers on Facebook, and he's provided relief, support and comfort to people all around the world. His contribution to society has been commended with the PDSA Order of Merit award, the animal equivalent of an OBE. 

Impressively, Max has met over 10,000 people since 2017 through charity walks, public appearances and personal meet-and-greets, raising an incredible amount of just under £300,000 for a number of charities, including PDSA.

Max becomes the first ever pet to receive the award, with the 32 previous awardees all specifically trained as working animals. 

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The adventures of Max, owned by Kerry Irving, have been documented to 200,000 followers on Facebook page Max Out in the Lake District

The page features daily updates about the adventures of Max trekking in the Lake District, treating followers to companionship they might be lacking under current social distancing guidelines, He has positively impacted the wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide, by simply being his energetic self. 

Commenting on the award, PDSA director general Jan McLoughlin said: “Max has provided a source of huge comfort – not only to his owner Kerry – but to thousands of people across the globe who are facing or have gone through, hard times. He has become a true ambassador for the positive impact that animals have on mental health and wellbeing, which is more important now than ever. 

"PDSA is honoured to recognise Max with the PDSA Order of Merit, for embodying the contribution that animals make to human lives, beyond ordinary companionship.”

Irving first met Max in 2008 while on the brink of despair following a car accident two years prior. However, slowly but surely, Max became an important part of Irving's life, even though he had different owners at the time. Eventually, Irving was able to adopt the extraordinary Springer Spaniel full time. 

Since Irving first shared Max's exploits on Facebook, his following has continued to grow. 

“When I was at my lowest, Max became my reason to live and he continues to make me smile every day. Being able to share the support, comfort and joy that Max brings to thousands of people has been a privilege.

“We receive daily messages from people all over the world, saying how Max’s adventures make them smile and bring joy to their life. Each has their own personal story. I have met soldiers who served in Afghanistan who say they used to look at Max’s page to remind them of home. I’ve also received messages from NHS staff working on the frontline during the pandemic, who have found moments of peace and escape with Max.

“It is a huge honour for Max to be awarded the PDSA Order of Merit. He is extremely deserving of this award and I am immensely proud of him.”

Since 2017, Paddy and Harry have also been added to the Springer contingency, constantly keeping Irving on his toes – although it's clear he wouldn't want it any other way.