The criminals and the cats will have to wait: for police dog Dirk it's all about time in the pool and on the Swiss ball as he attempts to recover from a tumour on his spine.

The Hawke's Bay pooch had been part of an ace crime fighting duo with Senior Constable Mike Warren until it was discovered earlier this month he had a tumour on his spine.

The 4-and-a-half-year-old German shepherd had just finished a busy week and was chasing his ball on a day off when "his back legs just gave in under him", Warren told the Herald.

"I thought he might have just slipped on something but in the space of 12 hours, he went from being normal to not being able to stand up and walk properly."

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Dirk was taken Massey University veterinarians for surgery where he remains in care and is "full of dogged determination to get back up to speed", an update posted on the Eastern District Police Facebook page stated.

"He has regained some motor function, which means the spinal cord is allowing the brain to send messages to his legs," police said.

He now was busy doing hydrotherapy sessions and "a lot more Swiss ball style exercises, which work his core and leg muscles".

"Thanks to everyone who has been asking about Dirk's wellbeing and recovery," police said.

"He continues to win the hearts of all the staff at Massey and is getting spoilt rotten."

Dirk the Hawke's Bay police dog is having hydrotherapy to assist in his recovery after a spinal tumour was detected. Photo/Police Eastern District Police
Dirk the Hawke's Bay police dog is having hydrotherapy to assist in his recovery after a spinal tumour was detected. Photo/Police Eastern District Police

Having been fostered by Warren's son since he was 8-weeks-old, Dirk is one of the family.

"It's a bit like having a human in the same situation - pretty sad really when you see him in that state, you wish it on no one," Warren said.

"He's a real character, he's like a 4-and-a-half-year-old puppy when it comes to playing but when it's work time, another switch goes off and he's into work mode so that's the perfect trait for a police dog."

Warren said that while it would be great if Dirk can get back to being a police dog, "if he gets back to just being a pet then we'll take that as well".