This is the first look at the police dog shot in the jaw during an armed standoff in Northland.
The Advocate has been told by a key member of the veterinary staff treating the unnamed dog that he has improved on a "meaningful scale" and it was no longer "touch and go".
The canine was rushed by helicopter to a specialist vet team in Auckland to treat life-threatening injuries to his jaw and blood loss. He was allegedly shot in the head by an armed man during Tuesday's shootout in Tangowahine, 12km northeast of Dargaville.
The man was shot by police and remained in a stable condition in hospital.
Inspector Todd Southall, national coordinator of police dogs, said this afternoon police would not name the dog because of ongoing investigations.
The comment appeared to be in response to a media outlet naming the dog.
Southall said more surgeries were expected over coming weeks and it was a long road to recovery for the dog.
He said police remained optimistic about the animal's return to the beat - but it was still too early to say whether this would happen.
It was Advanced Veterinary Care's Dr Alastair Coomer who said the dog's survival was "touch and go".
"The expectation is he is going to survive and he is going to continue to improve. We are still working with the goal of him thriving and going back to work."
Providing the dog's handler with news of the recovery was like telling a family member about a loved one, Coomer said.
"They love each other to bits, these guys," he said of the pair.
"Their partnership is similar to siblings that are on-side or like family. It's nice to be able to give good news, especially as it was touch and go for quite some time."
The closeness of the dog and handler was obvious from their first arrival, Coomer said.
The familiarity in a "tight bond like this" saw the dog responding to his owner's voice ahead of every other person talking.
The dog's handler had been a permanent presence by the dog's side as he received treatment.
Coomer is no stranger to saving the lives of Northland's police dogs.
This time, two years ago, the specialist vet was involved in the treatment of 20-month-old Caesar.
The german shepherd had only clocked up two weeks on the beat with his handler Constable Van Der Kwaak when he was stabbed in the head by a man resisting arrest at a home in Parua Bay, Whangārei.
Coomer said groups like The Working Dog Centre based at Massey University, alongside other specialist vets and nurses, meant the country's police dogs were in "incredible" hands.