'Life changing' - canine helper Delta makes big difference for wounded Kiwi war hero

Her name is Delta and for Dion Taka she’s life-changing.

Dion Taka and his wife Francis are grateful for the impact Delta is making on their lives. Source: 1 NEWS

The white Shepherd is the first assistance dog given to a New Zealand veteran and already Dion is calling for easier access for others.

Dion was shot by a sniper in the Battle of Baghak in 2012. Two of his fellow soldiers were killed in the conflict.

Since then he’s been battling with post traumatic stress injury and complex regional pain syndrome.

Despite therapy and medicine, he deals with extreme daily pain and anxiety.

But since receiving four-month-old Delta, he says that’s already starting to change.

"My safe place used to be the house but now its my bedroom. That’s how confined it is now," he says.

"But with Delta its opening that back up."

Funds from the annual poppy appeal helped pay for Delta and her training and this year’s appeal could fund more dogs for other soldiers.

Merenia Donne, head of the Kotuku Foundation Assistance Animals Aotearoa which helped fund Delta, hopes she could be the first of many.

"Dogs like Delta have been proven for veterans to be life changing," she says.

"In the USA they have a horrific rate of suicides, 22 a day with their veterans. And what they found was that every single veteran that has been partnered with a dog, not one of them has attempted to take their life"

This year annual poppy appeal is being held tomorrow, April 21.