Six months ago he was living rough on the streets of Wanganui ... now a dog called Bandit is set to become a TV star.

In a classic rags-to-riches tale, Bandit, an 18-month-old heading dog-huntaway-cross, spent months evading animal control. Now the young tearaway has a loving home ... with a Wanganui animal control officer.

And he is also going to feature in the television show Purina Pound Pups to Dog Stars, a 12-part series that begins on TV One next Tuesday. In the series animal behaviour expert Mark Vette works with dogs that have been abandoned or abused to make them ready for rehoming.

Bandit became famous in Wanganui last summer when he was spotted wandering near Cooks Garden by people living and working in the area, some of whom fed him. Attempts by animal control to capture the four-legged fugitive failed as he was wary of humans.


Council staff gave him the name Bandit while he was on the run, and it stuck.

Eventually he found himself in a tight spot - literally - when he tried to squeeze through a gap between a fence and a garage and became stuck.

Bandit spent a month in the pound and it was there that he captured the heart of animal control officer Edward Dennis.

"I had taken an interest in Bandit from the moment he arrived at the pound. He was very muscular and in very good condition, but it was his mental condition that was poor," Mr Dennis said.

"If you went near him, he would freeze. He would shut down and not move."

Mr Dennis knew people who worked on the Purina Pound Pups to Dog Stars show and decided to give them a call.

"Mark Vette came down to meet him, and agreed that he was a good case for the show."

He said Bandit was a tough case, even for an experienced expert like Mr Vette. He eventually made a breakthrough by introducing him to his other dogs.


Mr Dennis knew that even with Mr Vette's help, Bandit would be difficult to rehome, so he took him to live with him, where he has quickly bonded with Mr Dennis' doberman and fox terrier.

He said Bandit was intelligent and growing in confidence all the time.

"He's like a 16-year-old boy, so he's cheeky and quite keen on pushing the boundaries. He's a 'dog's dog' - much more interested in socialising with dogs than humans."

Heather, who did not want to give her last name, works in Bandit's old stomping ground and regularly fed the dog when he was a stray.

"He looked scared and lonely. I just used to sit in my car in the RSA carpark and get the dog roll out and he'd quietly come over."

She's delighted to discover Bandit has a happy new home.