AFTER a year of seeing Max the Staffordshire bull terrier let down by possible new owners at an animal rescue centre, volunteer John Oakley could not bear to see the pup disappointed one more time.

John, from Bewsey, had been giving up his free time to help the team at the RSPCA and often popped in to visit the animals while doing maintenance jobs at the centre.

He said: “Max had been here 12 months and had a few potential homes but every time it fell through.

“I felt really sorry for him.

“I had got to know him quite well, I used to go and say hello to him. He just kept getting let down.”

So locksmith John and his wife, Karen, decided to welcome Max into their home with their American bulldog, Diesel. Little did John know that it was just the beginning of their adventures together.

John said he had always wanted to try watersports and was given a kayak not long after adopting Max.

When John took the kayak out for the first time, to his surprise Max hopped on board too.

He said: “I just wanted to try it out and have a little paddle and he jumped straight on my lap, so we just went for it.

“He loves it, now I can’t get the kayak off the van without Max jumping into it.

“Having a dog gets you outside doing different things.”

And last year the pair took their new hobby to the next level by tackling a 100 mile kayak trip from the east coast to Stockton Heath to fundraise for the RSPCA.

John said it was a way for Max to say thank you to the charity for the care they gave him.

The organisation has now named Max their hero dog of the year in praise of the way he has overcome adversity to find a happy home.

He will be taking part in the RSPCA’s Big Walkies fundraiser with 48-year-old John to support the charity.

John, who tries to pop in to the Slutchers Lane centre every day to lend a hand, said: “I have loved animals since my childhood. It’s just nice to give something back for the animals here, you see the worst of the worst come in and then you see them leave as completely different animals.

“They arrive terrified and all skin and bones. But they turn them around here and they go to their new homes as normal dogs.”

The Big Walkies is a sponsored 5km walk from Bents Garden Centre through Windy Bank Wood, taking place on September 24 from 12pm. Register in advance for a discounted fee of £10 at