Max the Miracle Dog | The First Pet to Receive PDSA Order of Merit
Images via PDSA
Max the 'Miracle Dog', an English Springer Spaniel and therapy dog from the Lake District gained a lot of fans on social media during the lockdown last year through his Facebook page 'Max Out in the Lake District.' He has now become the very first pet to receive the PDSA Order of Merit award after providing virtual therapy to people across the world during the pandemic. The highly prestigious award is usually reserved for service animals and is the animal equivalent to an OBE. The PDSA describes the award as "Recognising animals that display outstanding devotion to their owner or wider society, above and beyond companionship." Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, Max has been providing thousands of people with uplifting videos across social media, posted by his owner, Kerry Irving.
Max with his owner, Kerry Irving.
In 2006, Max’s owner, Kerry Irving, was the victim of a road traffic accident. This left the outdoor-loving Kerry unable to walk. As a result, Kerry’s mental health declined and he was diagnosed with severe depression. Two years after the accident, Kerry met Max and their amazing bond gave him a reason to walk again. They climbed Ben Nevis together just 1 year later. Then, Kerry, who is a keen amateur photographer, started to post photos of Max enjoying his walks in the Lake District on his business Facebook page. As a result, followers grew as more people began visiting the page to enjoy Max’s adventures. Due to this success, Kerry dedicated the entire page to him, renaming it ‘Max out in the Lakes’. Kerry began to receive hundreds of requests from fans to meet Max, and they were both happy to oblige! Max trained as a therapy dog with Therapy Dogs Nationwide in 2016, which meant he could make special visits to people in need in schools, hospitals and hospices. Max's popularity was so great that Kerry began organising walks for charity which enabled large groups of people to meet him.
In 2018, alongside his brother, Paddy, Max received the PDSA Commendation, recognising how the dogs had helped their owner and their valuable community activity. Since 2017, Max has met over 10,000 people through personal meet-and-greets, charity walks, public appearances, school visits and book signings. He has helped to raise nearly £300,000 for a number of deserving charities such as the PDSA. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Max provided comfort, hope and support to thousands who joined him and Kerry on their walks via Facebook Live. At a time when many people were anxious or struggling, Max was there to provide support.
You can read more about Max and his award here. To watch past livestreams and catch the new ones, follow Max on Facebook here. Do you know a special dog that deserves to be celebrated? Tell us all about them in the comments below!