Max is now 4 years old and is an English Golden Retriever dog who we were asked to help. We were told he was being handed over to IRR because of a change in family circumstances which meant his owner could no longer care for him but his true story was far more complex than that. 

As a result, he was deemed un-rehomeable and became a forever foster dog with Jo and family who have loved and cared for him, often having to nurse him over bouts of terrible illness. As with all our forever fosters, IRR have taken total responsibility for funding Max's veterinary treatment, which has been considerable, even though his wonderful, caring primary vet has given most of her time freely and has been keeping the cost of other services to the minimum she could possibly manage.

Despite everyone's best efforts, Max now urgently needs to see a specialist and, of course, there is no insurance to fall back on as actually he came to us with his ongoing health problems. We desperately want to help Max but, to do this, we need to raise some extra funds as our medical emergency pot is all but empty with ongoing veterinary bills needing to be found for Bonnie and Holly and recently we had a very large bill for the late Chloe.


Jo tells us "Max has been ill for about 6 weeks now and we are having trouble controlling his diarrhoea again. We are up at least 2 or 3 times in the night to let him out, luckily he barks to let us know he needs the loo. He has been backwards and forwards to the vets and we have tried lots of the old and also new remedies but none of them seem to be working. Our vet (also called Jo) has suggested we go and see a specialist down in Winchester who may be able to help. Needless to say, there is a problem with cost, with the initial consultation of one hour being £250.00. My vet has explained to them that we just would like to know what is causing the problems he is having and to see what could be done, if anything. They can fit Max in on Tuesday 10th August and he will go for the consultation with all his Xrays and previous scans and with the specialist being aware of his full history.

Max is actually very upbeat again at the moment but he was very low and lethargic a few weeks ago and we are not sure how much longer his body can sustain this problem."

If anyone would like to help us to help the adorable Maximillian, could you please urgently email Chris at



Jo, his forever foster mum, tells us that today Max saw the specialist and had X.rays and an Ultrasound. The specialist vet, Kit Sturgess said Max is an extremely unusual case and has an extremely abnormal gut.

He has a mass in his lower small intestines which is sedimented material (basically a build up of rotting food). His liver is also abnormal and his lymph nodes enlarged which is not entirely unexpected given the strain caused by his problems and the use of long term medication.

There is free fluid in his stomach, his intestines are not normal and it is definitely a deformity from birth.

The vet wants to conduct an Endoscopy as soon as possible and take biopsies to determine whether there would be any point in operating. The best case scenario would be that his mass could be removed and he could become a "normal" dog but the worst outcome would be that the rest of his intestines are going to go the same way as the diseased bit and he would very quickly become seriously ill again. We can but hope and pray for a positive outcome.

Today's consultation and tests cost £790.25p which we have been able to pay thanks to several kind people who have already donated to Max's Appeal since it was started on 6.8.10.

UPDATE 13.08.2010

Max had his further tests on Friday 13th August.  We understood these tests would be costing in the region of another £700 so that was our next target and we thought we were doing really well but, unfortunately, the bill was actually £967.89p so we are still £350 short.  Hopefully, the donations will continue coming in from even more kind people for this really special boy who has touched so many people's hearts. We are now awaiting the results of today's tests to determine Max's future so we are all very anxious.

We don't know yet what the cost of an operation would be but, if it is in Max's best interests, we will fundraise as hard as we can to ensure that he will have the best possible chance of leading a normal life.

THE BEST NEWS (20.8.2010)

 The results of Max's biopsies have come back and the news is really good. Apparently, there is just the one diseased area which can be removed so an operation should change his life. 

The bad news is, of course, we still have to go on fund-raising as hard as we can to pay for the operation which will be taking place as soon as possible. If anyone can do a Car Boot or hold a Coffee Morning or Cheese and Wine Party etc to help raise funds please contact Chris at


Hello everyone. 

Thankyou for all your donations and kind words for me. I didn't have a very good night last night. My mum is sleeping on the sofa at the moment so she can let me out quickly for the loo, I give her a nudge with my nose and she isn't too bad at waking up quite quickly !!  

We are waiting to hear back from my vet to find out who will be doing my operation but I do know it's this week. I am a bit nervous but at the same time excited that I will feel so much better after the operation and, hopefully, will lead a normal life. 

I am very lucky because I have found a lovely family to look after and care for me. 

Here are some photos of me relaxing in the kitchen while my mum cooks dinner and one of me in the garden with my beloved ball.


I will get my mum to keep you all updated.  

Thankyou again for helping me get better, 

love Max  xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

UPDATE 23.8.2010

Jo is taking Max down to Winchester for his operation tomorrow so could everyone please hold him in their thoughts and prayers?

He has already received many messages of support including this lovely one from Floyd:-

Dear Max

Hello from Floyd. I am an IRR dog and my Mum took me in last year. Me and my brother Hardy are sending lots of good wishes for your operation this week. You look like a very brave boy, so keep those spirits up.

Hardy’s other brother, Hubbell, (who, unfortunately, I never met) also had a big problem with his tummy when he was about 18 months old. Hubbell had an operation a little bit like yours and he got better. My Mum tells me he always had a very sensitive tummy after that but it didn’t stop him from living a very happy life, running after balls, playing tug and loving everyone to bits. I wish I had met him ‘cause he sounds like a pretty cool chap. He lived for fourteen and a half incredibly happy years, so, once you get better after your operation, don’t forget you have a whole lifetime of playing ball and loving everyone to look forward to…..

As you can see I am keeping my paws crossed for you……………………. and Hardy is sending positive thoughts. Take care and we’ll be thinking of you this week.

Floyd X and Hardy X


Max has come through his long and difficult operation. Apparently, his condition is so unique that the vets can't even put a name to it. The vet has successfully removed all the diseased intestine and found two healthy bits to join back together but the healing stage can be difficult and he is not out of the woods yet. He will be recovering in hospital tonight but may be allowed home tomorrow as the vets realise he will be far less stressed if he can begin his recovery with intensive care at home.  

If Max deteriorates in any way he will have to be rushed back immediately to the vets but, fortunately, Jo is able to give him as much nursing as he needs this week so he will have her undivided attention.  

The coming few days will be a worrying time when things could go either way but the next 48 hours are going to be critical so please keep the positive thoughts and prayers coming for him.

VERY GOOD NEWS SO FAR (25/08/2010 AM) 

We just had a phonecall from a very relieved Jo. 

Apparently, although the next 24 hrs are still critical with a significant risk of peritonitus, Max is much more comfortable and he is really bright to the great surprise and delight of the vets.

He is still on a drip for his painkillers etc but he actually ate some food last night.

As long as he continues to progress so well, he will be going home tomorrow:)

Please keep the prayers coming. They are clearly working.


The absolutely brilliant news is that Max is on his way home. He was absolutely delighted to be reunited with his mum. The next week is still critical but we are very hopeful for him. Please keep the prayers coming as we are sure they are working. 

The bad news is that once again the estimate that we were given (£2000 - £2500) was wildly under the bill we had to pay today of £3534.96p  

Thanks to the kindness of Max's sponsors we have managed to completely cover the previous bills of £790.25p (consultation, Xrays & Ultrasound) and £967.89p (Endoscopy & biopsies) but, so far, we  have only managed to raise £338 towards this latest bill.  

Do you know anyone who could run a fun Coffee Morning or Cheese and Wine Party or maybe get rid of those unwanted things that have been hanging around the house for ages by doing a Car Boot Sale to help boost the funds for us? If anyone has any bright ideas please contact Chris at

UPDATE 30.8.2010

 Max continues to do well and is still having good nights. His pooh is now a thicker version of Mr Whippy! He is full of beans but is, not unexpectedly, very clingy with Jo.

His primary vet was pleased with him yesterday. There are no signs of the dreaded Peritonitis although his tummy was a little harder in one place than she would have liked so we need to confirm with the specialists that this is not a cause for concern.

Thanks to the help of one of his most prolific sponsors (his Aunty Chris) he is famous as he now has his own Facebook page at

All in all he is doing brilliantly so please keep the prayers coming for him.


Jo took Max back to see his consultant yesterday (2.9.2010) and the good news far outweighs the bad. 

Apparently, poor Max, quite understandably was very reluctant to go into the waiting room and surgery and objected strongly to a rectal examination but then who wouldn't? 

The verdict is that he is doing really well and is healing nicely. The one concern is the hard patch in his tummy picked up by Max's primary vet as unusual last Saturday. The problem is that his condition is so rare that nobody knows what is normal and what isn't.

There is no sign of Peritonitis and the danger period for that is now past, which is great, but it may be that he is a healing a bit too quickly and that is the reason for the hard bit. 

The really good news is he can come off all the medications that he has been on for a year.

Anyway, Jo is going to keep a very close eye on him for the next 2 weeks and then he will return to see the consultant again. If there are still concerns, he will have to have another Ultrasound but, hopefully, this won't be necessary. As before, if Max becomes distressed in any way, he is to be rushed back to Winchester immediately but all the signs are so good that this would very much be a worst case scenario. 

Please keep the prayers coming and, to all Max's generous doggy friend who have donated their pocket money, please continue to keep your paws crossed for him.

UPDATE FROM JO (7.9.2010) 

Max had a little bit of a relapse as far as his toilet is concerned so his primary vet has put him back on his long term medications and he is already beginning to improve again.

His vet was still a bit concerned because of the firmness of his tummy so an X-ray was taken but the great news is that nothing is amiss so she feels he won't need to return to Winchester for an Ultrasound. 

Max apologises to his Facebook friends for not going on there himself yet but, now he is feeling better agin, he is going to ask his mummy to help him write to his friends on a regular basis. 

He is looking forward to going to the Reunion on 18th September where he will be signing Pawtographs. 

Max sends huge hugs and kisses, woofs and licks to all his special friends xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


Hello everyone, at last I am on my web site, my mum has figured out how to do Facebook !! I did try and offer some assistance but she wasn't listening.

I have had a busy week, last week I went to the IRR Reunion in Bath. It was great fun, lots of lovely people came and said hello and gave me lots of fuss. I was so excited beca...use I was awarded the Pudsey memorial award for being so brave. Here is a photo of me with the award and looking full of beans.

I have been allowed to start going for short walks again as I am healing so well, I am going for a little walk now before bed so I will have to go. I will get my mum to write some more on my progress in a couple of days time. Thanks for all your support and lovely cards of get well wishes, I am lucky to have you all as friends.

lots of love and licks Max xx :-)


Mummy & Daddy collect antique teddy bears (as well as antique dogs.....!!!!!).

Recently they sorted out their collection and weeded out several teddies which they hoped to use to help boost IRR funds. A kind friend of theirs, who is involved with a local rescue kennels, offered to sell them at their big fund raising event - the arrangement was that they would keep 50% and we would have 50% for IRR.

Well, it was very successful and they raised a total of £171 so we've got £85.50 for the funds.

Kisses from Holly xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx



Max, Jo and all at IRR would like to thank the following people who have already donated to Max's appeal or made a pledge to donate towards his treatment:-

Animal Affairs Bristol
Rosemary Archer
Issy Bowler and mum Diane
Bill Carpenter
Lynne Chudleigh
Chris Cray
Sandra Dalmeijer in memory of Buddy
Joy Dickinson, Fable and Tara
Sue and Dave Frankcombe, Cindy and Gus
Nigel and Julie Fry
Ann Grant and Floyd
Greville and Ruth Handbury-Madin
Chris Heath
Nicky Herring and Levi
Di James, Penny and Dazzle
Pauline Jefferey
Lynne Jones in memory of Jilly May
Maxine Julius
Diane, John & Brucie Killington
Lactosym who are going to donate a 500 ml bottle
Vanessa Leon and Perry
Joan Phillips, Louis and Sophie
Jane Macphail
Val Moffatt
Dee Nelson
Sunita Puee and John Hornibrook
Edna, Harry and Skye Russell
Jill and Wendy Rhymer
Aileen Smith, Angel, Allie & Sam
Di & Rob Thompson, Holly, Bella and Josie
Shadow and Wendy Tolhurst
Sally Tooke
Dave and Jan Voller
VIKING VETS, BRISTOL in memory of Honey Cummings
Waggy Tails Dog Training Club
Dawn Watson
Wendy Waygood
Kerry and Honey Waygood
Debbie, John, Molli and Abi Westall
Bella, Murphy and Andrea Westwood
Karl Wickenden and Murphy
Sheila Wilde
Caroline Wilkins, Kenzie and Turner

MAX’S STORY (told by Jo)

When we first got the call that Max needed a foster home we all thought it was going to be a straight forward re homing case. Boy were we wrong ! He had food aggression issues ( which we didn't know so I learnt that one the hard way when I dropped my toast and we both went in to retrieve it... that time I came off worst ! ), he didn't like sharing his toys, had a 'bit' of an upset tummy, really bad breath due to his teeth and excitable anxiety. So when we got him home he was treated to a hair cut and bath so he looked smart and smelled good, then he was booked in to see the vet to have his teeth cleaned, what a wonderful difference that made, so all we had to do now was sort the other issues out and all would be well.

Max took a little while to settle into family life, he had to learn some manners and soon my two other dogs took him in hand and taught him the ropes. We slowly gained his trust with lots of love and affection and training. He was a very fast learner and soon realised swapping toys for treats was a much better idea. The food aggression was one off the easiest to sort out as soon as he realised we were not in competition for his food. He could be stroked when eating and was more than happy for you sit next to him while eating. He was still a bit of a stealer eg it was never a good idea to leave a sandwich on the table while answering the phone but, as it is not unheard of for Golden Retrievers to put food at the top of their wish list, nobody was that surprised or concerned and no alarm bells had started to ring as yet.

As time went by the changes we saw in Max were amazing, he was like my daughter's shadow and he just loved to be in the company of the family. Ashleigh, my daughter, took charge of his training, and was walking him every day, he was playing with all the other dogs he met and became a really lovable, affectionate companion just as a Golden Retriever should be.

However, we were still having problems with his tummy. We just couldn't understand it as we were always so careful. Then one day the downward spiral started. He started to get really sick, very quickly, with horrendous bloody diarrhoea, a high temperature and he was really listless and depressed. We rushed him to the vets immediately and that's where he stayed for 4 days. He was on a drip and had to have an emergency operation to save his life. His intestines were full of noxious gas which had to urgently be removed and the vet worked through the night to save him. We were all devastated at the thought that this dog, who had captured our hearts by his amazing transformation, could leave us so soon.

The vets did an amazing job especially as it was still a total mystery what could have caused this illness. At the beginning of this emergency, we called his previous owner to see if she could shed any light on the problem and were told it had happened before, at Christmas, when Max had stolen and eaten a toy which seemed feasible and it was thought maybe a few tiny fragments could have been overlooked. A few more days on, when pushed, the previous owner confessed that Max had actually suffered with dietary problems right from the time he was a tiny puppy so, whilst true about the toy, it wasn't the cause of Max's problems. It also explained Max's voracious appetite and "bad" behaviour on his arrival....he was starving.

When he came home, the already slender Max, had lost a tremendous amount of weight and was very weak but he was so excited to see us. The road to recovery has been a long slow one with lots of tests and biopsies, showing a long term bacterial infection in his intestines. His intestines have been permanently damaged and he is still on antibiotics and a special diet after a year and will probably be for a long time, if not forever, but IRR were not prepared to give up on him and neither were we.

A few weeks on, he was still very underweight but his spirits were normally high. He is a really wonderful dog and we all realised, through the trauma of nearly losing him, how strong the bond is on both sides. We couldn't imagine our family without him so we were all delighted to hear he would be staying with us, as a forever foster home, so we could continue to work on his recovery with IRR paying his bills.

He came to us as naughty Max but would be staying as our very special ONE in a MAXIMILIAN.



2009 Irish Retriever Rescue UK