An English springer spaniel from Keswick has been awarded an animal OBE for giving support and comfort to thousands of people worldwide as a virtual therapy dog.
Max, the 13-year-old social media star dog will be honoured by veterinary charity PDSA in an online ceremony today.
The PDSA Order of Merit has been awarded to the dog who helped raise nearly £300,000 for charities and helped people through the COVID-19 pandemic with its social media updates.
Max first rose to fame after turning Kerry Irving’s life around after a traffic collision left him with chronic pain and unable to walk.
A year later they both summited Ben Nevis overcoming physical and mental obstacles along the way.
Kerry said: “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.
“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.”
Max is the first ever pet to receive the award since its inception in 2014, all other animals to win the award were trained to fulfil a role within society.
Thirty-two animals have been awarded the PDSA Order of Merit to date.
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.”
The PDSA’s Animal Award Programme was instituted in 1943 by the charity’s founder Maria Dickin CBE who believed that if animals were recognised for their heroism then they would be treated better.