Now the star, from the Lake District, will be awarded the Order of Merit by veterinary charity PDSA for outstanding contribution to society at a virtual ceremony today. Jan McLoughlin, PDSA director general, 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.”
Max’s owner, Kerry Irving, 46, credits the dog with giving him a “reason to live” after a car accident 12 years ago left him with severe back pain and depression.
The keen amateur photographer began to record their adventures on Facebook Live page Max Out In The Lakes.
Max was such a huge hit, in 2016 Kerry had him trained as a therapy animal by Assistance Dogs UK.
Now Max has met more than 10,000 people through meet-and-greets, charity walks and visits to schools, hospitals and hospices.
He’s also helped raise nearly £300,000 for a number of charities, including PDSA.
Kerry said: “At my lowest, Max became my reason to live. Being able to share the support, comfort and joy that Max brings to thousands of people is a privilege.
“We receive daily messages from people all over the world, saying how Max’s adventures bring joy to their life.
“Soldiers who served in Afghanistan …. messages from NHS staff on the front line during the pandemic, who have found moments of peace and escape with Max.”
Max will be the first pet to receive the Order of Merit, launched in 2014 and so far given to animals specifically trained to perform roles, search and rescue dogs.
Kerry said: “It’s a huge honour for Max.”