MAX THE DOG GETS ORDER OF MERIT BLOG Saturday 20th February 2021


Max the dog is first pet (other dogs to receive it have been military dogs or in service in some way) to receive ‘Order of Merit’ after comforting thousands over lockdown.

The spaniel provided virtual therapy to thousands during lockdown.

English springer spaniel, Max who will receive the PSDA Order of Merit for his work during the pandemic.

A spaniel who brought virtual comfort to thousands during the Covid-19 pandemic has become the first pet to be honoured with the PDSA Order of Merit – an accolade typically reserved for service animals.

Max was presented with the award, which leading veterinary charity the People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals describes as the animal equivalent of an OBE, at a virtual ceremony for his outstanding contribution to society.

The 13 year-old springer spaniel’s daily walks in the Lake District are broadcast on Facebook Live and enjoyed by people all over the world.

The organisation has handed out awards to single out animals for bravery or service since 1943, with the order of merit issued to animals including US secret service dogs and metropolitan police horses.

Max’s owner, Kerry Irving, says that her pet gave him a “reason to live” after a traffic accident left him severely depressed and unable to walk. Sharing the “support, comfort and joy” Max brings with others has been a “privilege”, he added.

PDSA director general Jan McLoughin congratulated Max on his achievement, saying: “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.”

She added that he has become a “true ambassador” for mental health and wellbeing, “which is more important now than ever”.

Aside from social media stardom, Max is a trained therapy dog and has met with more than 100,000 people through meet-and-greets, charity walks and school visits.

His appearances have helped to raise £300,000 for a number of charities including PDSA.

Max’s owner is a keen amateur photographer and records his pet’s adventures on the Facebook page Max Out in the Lake District.

He 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.

“We receive daily messages from people all over the world, saying how Max’s adventures make them smile and bring joy to their life.”

Mr Irving says soldiers who served in Afghanistan have contacted him to say they used to look at his page to remind them of home.

NHS staff have also told him they’ve found “moments of peace and escape” with Max during the pandemic.

Since the PDSA’s Order of Merit was launched in 2014, it has been awarded to 32 dogs and horses.

LIFE changed drastically for Kerry Irving eleven years ago when his car was hit by a truck. ‘I was used to cycling 500 to 600 miles a month and loved fell walking – but basically, my life stopped,’ he says.

‘I was on 27 tablets a day and struggled to walk even a short distance. It was a deep downward spiral for me until I met Max in 2008 and my rehabilitation gradually began.’

Max, a loveable springer spaniel, has helped Kerry to regain his freedom and the pair are now inseparable. ‘Max belonged to a neighbour and I started by taking him out for very short walks every day. Within a week we became the best of pals. When I retrained as a locksmith he started to come to work with me every day.

‘Initially, he gave me a reason to go out and helped me through very dark times. It’s taken a long time to open up and talk about depression and it took me six years to climb a hill again. Max got me there.’



Max the Miracle Dog: The Heart-warming Tale of a Life-saving Friendship by Kerry Irving

Publisher : HarperElement (3 Sept. 2020)

Paperback : 272 pages


The Sunday Timesbestseller

Sunday Times Number 3 best seller!

’Are you ready, Max? If anyone’s going to help me do this, it’s you.’

The heart-warming tale of a life-saving friendship.

In 2006, a traumatic car accident changed Kerry Irving’s life forever.

Suffering from severe neck and back injuries, Kerry was unemployed and housebound, struggling with depression and even thoughts of suicide. He went from cycling over 600 miles a month to becoming a prisoner in his own home.

With hope all but lost, Kerry’s wife encouraged him to go on a short walk to the local shop. In the face of unbearable pain and overwhelming panic, he persevered and along the way, met an adorable yard dog named Max. As the Spaniel peered up through the railings, Kerry found comfort and encouragement in his soulful brown eyes. This chance encounter marked a turning point in both their lives.

In Max, Kerry found comfort and motivation and in Kerry, Max found someone to care for him. This is their remarkable, inspiring story.




(Sorry a bit Americanised.)

Dogs have always been known for their loyalty, their unconditional love, and their friendship. There are a few dogs in history, however, that went above and beyond their traditional role as pets and became heroes.

  1. Balto

A black and white husky named Balto was the lead sled dog for Gunner Kaasen’s sled team on the last leg of the 1925 serum run to Nome, Alaska. He led the team through hazardous blizzards and ice to deliver the critical medicine to the citizens of Nome, and gained fame in the process.

  1. Togo

Togo was a Siberian Husky who travelled a round trip of 325 miles through subzero temperatures of the arctic to hand off a diphtheria serum for the citizens of Nome, Alaska.

At one point during the trip, Seppala was unable to see through the storm, but Togo led the team in a straight line through the dark to safety.

  1. Smoky The Terrier

While some people consider small breeds to be lapdogs, Smoky was destined for more. A four-pound Yorkshire Terrier, she was found by American soldiers in the New Guinea jungle during WWII and went on to back-pack with their camp for 18 months. Because Smoky wasn’t brought over as a war dog, she didn’t have the same diet and medical access as the other dogs. Even still, she survived and thrived on sharing her keeper, William Wynne’s, rations.

  1. Laika

Laika, a mixed-breed Soviet space dog, was the first animal in space and the first animal to orbit the earth. She was a stray selected from the streets of Moscow to go through with the mission. At the time, de-orbiting had not been attempted, and Laika’s mission had a ill fate. She would not be returned to earth after take-off and reportedly died from overheating several hours into the flight.

  1. Sgt. Stubby

The most decorated war dog of World War I was a mixed terrier named Sergeant Stubby.He was the only dog to be nominated for rank and promoted to sergeant rank. Official mascot of the 102nd Infantry Regiment for the United States, Stubby served through seventeen battles over the course of 18 months in France. He protected his regiment from mustard gas, and even held a German soldier by the seat of his pants until his team could find him. Even through multiple grenade and gas injuries, Sergeant Stubby continued serving until he returned home and later became mascot for Georgetown University.

  1. Hachiko

An Akita dog in Japan, Hachikōwas known to be an example of animal loyalty and fidelity. He faithfully met his owner, Hidesaburō Ueno, at the Shibuya train station at the end of each work day. The two met at the station to walk home each day from 1924-1925 before Ueno suffered a fatal brain haemorrhage. Hachikō continued waiting at the train station for Ueno each day for the next nine years, nine months, and fifteen days until his death in 1935. Each year on March 8, Hachikō’s loyalty is honored with a ceremony of at the Shibuya station.

Warning: Sadness alert. The story of Hachiko is incredible, but it’s incredibly heart breaking. Richard Gere starred in a movie about Hachi that is worth a watch, but make sure you have some tissues close by. Hachi: A Dog’s Tale ( 2009), Production Budget $16 million, Box office $46.7 million.

  1. Mancs

This German Shepherd was a famous rescue dog in Hungary during the 1990s and 2000s. Mancs, whose name means “paw,” excelled at locating earthquake survivors beneath the rubble of destroyed buildings. He and his owner, László Lehóczki, partook in multiple rescue missions. Mancs became famous for helping rescue a trapped 3-year-old in Turkey who spend more than 80 hours beneath rubble during the Izmit earthquake of 1999. A statue of his likeness was erected in 2004 om downtown Miskolc.

  1. Rags

Rags was a mixed-breed terrier war dog adopted by the 1st Division in 1918 during WWI. He was trained to deliver messages between the front lines and headquarters. Rags was celebrated for delivering an important, life-saving message to the front lines despite having been gassed, bombed, and partially blinded on the way. He was presented numerous awards and medals for his service and later became celebrated in magazines and newspapers.

  1. Bobbie

In 1923, Bobbie, a Scotch Collie/English Shepherd mix, was made famous for finding his way back home over 2,551 miles after going missing on a family vacation. Bobbie and his owners were separated while on vacation in Indiana. After an extensive search, the family returned to their home in Oregon, sure that they would never see their beloved pet again. Nearly six months later, Bobbie showed up at his family’s home, having made the journey on foot to reunite with his family. Bobbie was made famous for his long journey and even acted as himself in a film about his amazing trip.

  1. Appollo

Appollo is a famous police dog known best as being the first rescue dog on the scene at the World Trade Centers during the September 11 attacks. He and his handler, Peter Davis, were involved in the search and rescue missions during 9/11 and faced death to save people from the fallen buildings.





A diamond is a chunk of coal that did well under pressure.


Happiness is…the fun and love of an English springer spaniel.


I’m dating a girl who loves to be covered in cheese,

she’s a cracker.


Love is…not easily angered.


A time to pay tribute to what brave people have done to help us through the pandemic…A time to pay tribute to what brave animals have done to help us through the pandemic YOUR HISTORY

20th February 2012 Scientists successfully regenerate the flowering plant, Silene stenophylla from a 31,800 year old piece of fruit, greatly surpassing the previous record of 2,000 years.

20th February 1952 “African Queen” film directed by John Huston, starring Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn is released.

20th February 1816 Gioachino Rossini’s opera “Barber of Seville” premieres in Rome.



You come here to be cheered up. Over the last few weeks, we have avoided showing Covid-19 statistics for the UK as they have been depressing. But we seem to have turned the corner and the figures are looking far better and improving daily to give us so much hope. So, as an important part of cheering us all up we will show the daily improving figures.

Total Cases                         4,095,269                             Latest Daily New Cases                  12,027

People in Hospital            19,392                                   Change on Day                                  -779

Total deaths                       119,920                                 New Deaths 24 Hr Period              533

Total 1st Vaccine Dose   16,875,536                           Latest Daily Figure                           452,454




©2021 Phil M Robinson