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Spaniel, who provided virtual therapy to thousands of people, including NHS staff, during the pandemic, is receiving the animal equivalent of an OBE.

Max, an English Springer Spaniel from the Lake District, is awarded the Order of Merit by the veterinary charity PDSA for his outstanding contribution to society at a virtual ceremony on Friday.

The 13-year-old social media star has provided a source of “great comfort” to people struggling during the virus pandemic, said PDSA Director General Jan McLoughlin.

Max continued to comfort his social media followers who could join him on his daily walks through Facebook Live.

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He added, “He has become a true messenger of the positive effects animals have on mental health and wellbeing, which is more important now than ever. ”

The Order of Merit, which was launched in 2014, was previously awarded to 32 dogs and horses that were specially trained to perform tasks, including police dogs, medical detection dogs and search and rescue dogs.

Max will be the first pet to receive the honor.

Its owner, Kerry Irving, 46, attributes the dog a “reason to live” after being unable to walk after a traffic accident and suffering from severe depression.

The avid amateur photographer began recording his adventures on the Max Out in the Lakes Facebook page.

The avid amateur photographer began recording his adventures on the Max Out in the Lakes Facebook page.

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After hundreds of requests from Facebook fans wanting to meet Max, Mr. Irving let Assistance Dogs UK train him to be a therapy dog ​​in 2016 so he could attend schools, hospitals and hospices.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, Max continued to offer solace to his social media followers, who could join him on his daily walks via Facebook Live.

Mr Irving said, “I have also received messages from NHS staff who have worked on the front lines during the pandemic and have found moments of peace and escape with Max.

“It is a great honor for Max to receive the PDSA Order of Merit. He deserves this award and I’m very proud of him. “

As of 2017, Max has met more than 10,000 people through meet-and-greets, charity walks, performances, and school visits, and raised nearly £ 300,000 for a number of charities, including PDSA.