Hawke's Bay Police have announced the sad news that their beloved police dog Dirk has died after undergoing serious spinal surgery to remove a tumour from his spine in July 2018.
His handler Senior Constable Mike Warren had documented his journey back to health after surgery on the Eastern District Police Facebook page, praising the "amazing staff" at the Massey University Veterinary Teaching Hospital for overseeing his rehabilitation.
Sadly, Dirk didn't recover fully from the spinal cord surgery and was laid to rest on Friday, March 15.
"Dirk had a number of major setbacks with infections and other related spinal issues.
"His quality of life was such that he was totally reliant on his carers for support.
"This decision was not made lightly and was made for Dirk’s well-being," Mr Warren wrote on Facebook.
His handler went on to give an emotional tribute to his mate.
"Dirk is a huge loss to the New Zealand Police and the Hawke’s Bay Police Dog Section.
"He was an exceptional police dog and was struck down to soon.
"He touched many hearts with his awesome nature and loved his cuddles and ear rubs with whoever made a fuss of him.
"R.I.P. my mate."