Honouring Our One-in-a-Maximillian

Honouring Our One-in-a-Maximillian

  • Erin Swanson

MAX THE MIRACLE DOG 12.08.08 – 06.04.22

He touched the lives of so many people and was the ‘lifesaver’ and constant companion of his beloved owner, Kerry Irving. Our one-in-a-million Max the Miracle Dog, also known as Max Out in The Lake District, sadly gained his Angel wings on Wednesday 6 April. 

Max, a Springer Spaniel dog, sits in the grass in the Lake District.

With his two brothers Paddy and Harry, Kerry, and his humans by his side, Max slipped away in his favourite spot for a woodland walk with the bird song, breeze, and his family comforting him.

Max was a treasured Ruffwear ambassador, famed for wearing the Campfire Orange Front Range® Harness and accompanying Kerry on many fundraising and awareness raising missions for charities. He rubbed shoulders with royalty and was a canine champion for the hills and valleys of the Lake District National Park, where he and Kerry roamed every day.

Three Springer Spaniel dogs, including Max, sit on a grassy hillside.

But as our Ruffwear Founder Patrick Kruse explains, he was so much more than that to us and the tens of thousands of fans across the UK and all over the world.

Patrick said: “I believe each of us knows deep down what it is like to say goodbye to our beloved little four-legged companions who give so much and ask for so little. With love, compassion, and gratitude for our four-legged companions and the humans who invite them into our lives, we send our heartfelt condolences to Kerry and his family. We are continents apart but connected through our experiences.”

MAX’S STORY 

If you’ve ever visited Keswick in Britain’s beautiful lake district, you may have spotted a bronze statue not far from the lake in Hope Park. A tribute to a little spaniel called Max, also known as  Max the Miracle Dog. But what did he do to earn such esteem? Is he a rescue dog? Did he complete a lifesaving feat? 

Max and his two dog brothers sit next to the bronze statue of Max in Hope Park.

He’s certainly a hero. Not for mountain rescues, but for bringing his human Kerry Irving back from the brink.  A life-changing accident had left Kerry not only struggling with his mobility and physical pain, but also suffering with his mental health.

Kerry explains, “Living in the Lakes, I’d always loved hiking and cycling. But in 2006 I was involved in a serious road traffic accident which left me with life-changing injuries. All the things I had loved doing were now completely impossible. I couldn’t be bothered to get out of bed, couldn’t be bothered to talk, get dressed, or shower. You start going down a very slippery slope. Then your friends stop knocking on the door. And you start thinking, ‘My wife would be better off without me; I’m just a burden.’ I was literally lying in bed thinking, ‘How can I end this?’”

It was a terribly low time for Kerry. Until one day, he stopped to pet his neighbour’s dog, Max. The daily shuffle along the street soon progressed to Kerry taking Max with him on a little walk as part of his recuperation. 

Max, a Springer Spaniel dog, smiles while laying down in the grass on a hike.

They walked further and further each day. Not only did Max give Kerry something to focus on, but a special bond was forming between human and dog. Max was beside him every step of the way as Kerry did something he thought he would never do again – he got to the top of Britain’s highest Mountain, Ben Nevis.  

His neighbour could see how the pair had formed an unbreakable bond and offered Kerry a chance to adopt Max. 

Max jumps in the air on a hike while wearing his orange Ruffwear Front Range Harness.

Kerry and Max started arranging walks as fundraising missions for charities such as the mental health charity Mind, armed forces charities such as Scotty’s Little Soldiers, and the Great North Air Ambulance. They also raised hundreds of thousands of pounds for animal charities. Their work has helped many people with PTSD/mental health conditions, helping to demystify and destigmatize these sensitive topics for so many people across the UK and the world.

HONOURARY PUP

For his efforts, Max was awarded the PDSA (People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals) Order of Merit. It is the highest accolade a dog can get in the UK (recognised as the equivalent of a dog OBE), and he had a statue unveiled in his honour by the lakeside in Keswick.

Max also visited Buckingham Palace to meet Will and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. Most recently, Max and his brothers were named the first honorary crew members of the Great North Air Ambulance for their fundraising efforts.

 Kate Middleton reaches down to pet Max, a famous Springer Spaniel dog.

Kerry said: "The amount of friends we've made through Max is just incredible.

The friendships, the changes in people's lives, all through a dog. We've got to think about what a life he has had … the public outpouring of grief showed me that Max was probably one of the most loved dogs in the world."

Who knew a little dog with a big heart could make such an impact on so many people?

Kerry and his dog, Max, sit on a hillside looking out at an orange sunset.

To honour Max’s legacy, Ruffwear UK is donating 5% of all sales of the Campfire Orange Front Range Harness, Leash, and Collar collection. Orange is the colour our one-in-a-Maximillian always wore on his travels, and it set him apart from his brothers who don their red and teal harnesses. 

You can also hear more about their story in the book, Max the Miracle Dog: The Heart-warming Tale of a Life-saving Friendship. Follow their adventures on Facebook & Instagram @maxoutinthelakedistrict_

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