Therapy dog gets statue after helping thousands during pandemic

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Three dogs next to the Max statue in Keswick, Cumbria. (PA)
Max, Paddy, and Harry pose next to the Max statue in Keswick, Cumbria. (PA)

A therapy dog has been immortalised with a statue after helping more than 10,000 people during the pandemic.

Springer spaniel Max, aged 13, was honoured by his hometown of Keswick, Cumbria, on Friday with a bronze statue in Hope Park.

The dog won the animal equivalent of an OBE, PDSA Order of Merit, in February for providing virtual therapy during lockdown.

He became the first-ever pet to receive the honour, with the award previously being given to specially trained dogs working with emergency services.

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Therapy dog Max has helped more than 10,000 people during the pandemic. (PA)
Therapy dog Max has helped more than 10,000 people during the pandemic. (PA)

Owner Kerry Irving adopted Max in 2008 after becoming seriously injured in a traffic collision and suffering from severe depression.

He trained him as a therapy dog in 2016 and during the pandemic, he broadcast him on Facebook Live to provide comfort to people.

Photos of Max out on his walks quickly became popular on social media.

The dog has since met more than 10,000 people through meet-and-greets, charity walks, appearances, and school visits and helped raise nearly £300,000 for several charities, including PDSA.

Irving, who also owns two other springer spaniels called Paddy and Harry, 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.

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KESWICK, ENGLAND - JUNE 11:  Kerry Irving poses with his three dogs Max, Paddy, and Harry after he met Prince William, Duke of Cambridge and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge as they visit Keswick Market place during a visit to Cumbria on June 11, 2019 in Keswick, England. The royal couple visited Keswick to join a celebration to recognise the contribution of individuals and local organisations in supporting communities and families across Cumbria. They then went on to visit a traditional fell sheep farm. (Photo by Andy Commins - WPA Pool/Getty Images)
Kerry Irving poses with his three dogs Max, Paddy, and Harry. (Getty)

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.

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.”

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