If police dog Arnie, shot in the jaw during an armed standoff in Northland last year, could talk his words would be: I'll be back.
The Advocate can reveal beloved K9 Arnie, whose name has officially been released by police, will be joining Northland's Search and Rescue team - with his first day reporting for duty next week.
Inspector Todd Southall, national coordinator police dogs, said despite the best efforts from local and specialist vets - as well as Arnie's best friend and handler - the long-lasting impacts from his injured jaw meant he was unsuitable for frontline patrol dog duties.
But that hasn't stopped Arnie's dogged determination to serve.
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"Fortunately Arnie was also trained as specialist a Police Search and Rescue dog and as his 'scent' work is back to full strength he will continue in this role as the Search and Rescue dog for the Northland Police District commencing next week," Southall said.
It was touch and go whether the beloved canine would survive his life-threatening injuries caused by a bullet to Arnie's muzzle allegedly fired by a 30-year-old man in Tangowahine, near Dargaville, on December 1.
But Arnie was kept alive by the swift actions of vets in Dargaville and later Kamo Vets' senior vet Sandra Murray who delivered a life-saving blood transfusion as the Northland Rescue chopper rushed the canine to Unitec in Mt Albert, Auckland, for specialist veterinary treatment.
Southall said despite being absent from the frontline, Arnie will always have a place in the force.
"He will remain a much loved member of his handler's family as well as being part of our police whānau."