A springer spaniel who won the animal equivalent of an OBE has been immortalised in statue form in his hometown of Keswick, Cumbria.
Max, aged 13, won the PDSA Order of Merit in February for providing virtual therapy during lockdown, with the town further honouring him on Friday with a bronze statue in Hope Park.
Owner Kerry Irving had Max trained as a therapy dog in 2016, turning to Facebook Live during the Covid-19 pandemic to broadcast his daily walks and provide comfort during lockdown.
Mr Irving said: “Hope Park is the perfect location as Max has brought hope to so many people.
“It’s incredible that our little boy, proudly wearing his PDSA Order of Merit, will now be sat there and remembered for generations to come.”
The statue was designed and made by local sculptor Kirsty Armstrong, and was unveiled by 12-year-old Keswick local Sophie.
Mayor of Keswick, Councillor Alan Dunn, said: “Max is an extraordinary dog, he’s Keswick’s canine ambassador, and I’m delighted to be able to help unveil this wonderful tribute to him today.
“Max’s gentle nature has touched so many people around the world, and his and Kerry’s dedication to charitable work and helping as many people as possible is a true testament to the unshakeable bond between one man and his dog.”
The statue was paid for by a crowdfunding campaign, which raised £26,000 in a single day.
Mr Irving then donated the additional funds to vet charity PDSA.
He said: “The fact we were able to donate additional proceeds to PDSA too is wonderful, as it’s a charity that is very close to my heart.
“I’m humbled by it all, and hope that Max’s statue will bring great comfort to all those who visit.”
Mr Irving adopted Max in 2008 after becoming seriously injured in a traffic collision two years earlier and suffering with severe depression.
Photos of Max out on his walks quickly became popular on social media, and Max has since met more than 10,000 people through meet-and-greets, charity walks, appearances and school visits and helped to raise nearly £300,000 for a number of charities, including PDSA.
The PDSA Order of Merit, launched in 2014, has previously been given to 32 dogs and horses who were specifically trained to perform roles, including as police dogs, medical detection dogs and search and rescue dogs.
Max became the first ever pet to receive the honour.