A therapy dog who has found fame online is being given a top honour by vet charity PDSA.
Videos of Max the Miracle Dog’s daily walks in the Lake District are watched by thousands of people.
The 13-year-old springer spaniel will be the first pet to receive the PDSA Order of Merit, with previous recipients including police and search and rescue animals.
The dog’s owner Kerry Irving said Max saved his life and helps many others.
The PDSA, which nicknamed the honour the “animal OBE”, said the “positive and life-altering impact Max has on the wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of people worldwide is unprecedented”.
A spokesman said Max’s popularity on social media “provides a feel-good factor”, and since 2017 the dog has also met more than 10,000 people and raised almost £300,000 for a number of charities.
Mr Irving, who lives in Keswick, met Max while he was suffering depression two years after being seriously injured in a car crash which left him with chronic pain.
He said Max gave him the motivation to get out and walk, and he later adopted the dog after Max’s owners decided to move to a city.
Mr Irving 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. Each has their own personal story. I have met soldiers who served in Afghanistan who say they used to look at Max’s page to remind them of home. I’ve also received messages from NHS staff working on the frontline during the pandemic, who have found moments of peace and escape with Max.”
PDSA director general, Jan McLoughlin said Max had become a “true ambassador for the positive impact that animals have on mental health and wellbeing, which is more important now than ever”.
The PDSA Order of Merit was created in 2014 since when 32 dogs and horses have been recognised for their work.