Keswick turns orange for Miracle Max’s 14th birthday

Famous Cumbrian canine’s charity walk raises over £30k for vet charity PDSA.

An estimated 500 people and 400 dogs turned Keswick into a sea of orange on Saturday (14 August) as they attended a charity birthday walk in honour of Cumbria’s most famous canine – Max the Miracle Dog – who turned 14 on 12 August.

The unprecedented turnout helped to raise over £30,000 for vet charity PDSA, which treats the sick and injured pets of people in need, and is a charity close to Max and his owner Kerry Irving’s heart.

Kerry said: “Max has changed so many lives so it seemed fitting to enjoy his 14th birthday walk with as many people and their dogs as possible. We asked everyone to wear orange, which is Max’s colour, and I was blown away by the response. And to top it off by raising so much money for PDSA, a charity that helps thousands of owners and their pets every day, is wonderful.”

The walk went through Crow Park near Derwentwater, where many of the dogs took a quick dip to cool off, and on into Hope Park, where people got to see the statue of Max that was recently put up. The walkers then returned to the old Pencil Factory building, kindly provided free of charge by Keswick Ministries. All the dogs were then treated to a birthday buffet, courtesy of Pooch & Mutt.

Ruth Lister, Philanthropy Manager at PDSA said: “It was truly joyful to spend the day celebrating Max’s birthday with hundreds of people whose lives he has had such an enormous impact on. Along the walk I had the chance to chat with some of those people and hear their personal experiences about why they had travelled from far and wide to join this special celebration. The fact that their love and appreciation of Max is able to shine a light on the work of PDSA and encourage such generosity is humbling. We are extremely grateful for all that they do to support our work treating poorly pets in need.”

English Springer Spaniel, Max, was adopted by his owner, Kerry Irving, back in 2008. Having been seriously injured in a traffic collision two years earlier, Kerry was suffering from chronic pain, unable to walk and was diagnosed with severe depression. A chance encounter brought Max into his life, and nothing has been the same since. Kerry credits Max with saving his life, and photos of Max out on his walks quickly made him a popular social media star. Max went on to make public appearances, charity walks and school visits, meeting and helping more than 10,000 people and raising around £300,000 for charities, including PDSA. He was even invited to Kensington Palace and met the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

When the pandemic hit in early 2020, Kerry and Max broadcast their daily walks online (along with Max’s ‘brothers’ Paddy and Harry) from their local beauty spots in the Lakes. Via Facebook Live videos, hundreds of thousands of people all over the globe were able to join them, providing vital comfort, support and escape while the world was in lockdown. Max became the world’s virtual therapy dog, his continuous presence helping people when they needed it the most, through incredibly dark times of isolation, loneliness, anxiety and fear.

Max was the first ever pet to receive a PDSA Order of Merit since its inception in 2014; all 32 other dogs and horses that have received the medal have been specifically trained to perform roles in society, including Police Dogs and Horses, Medical Detection Dogs and Search and Rescue Dogs.

You can follow Kerry and Max, plus Max’s brothers Paddy and Harry, from his Facebook page Max out in the Lake District.

To contribute to Max’s birthday fundraiser for PDSA go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/max-out-in-the-lake-district4