James Moore has been watching TVNZ's Dog Squad NZ since he was 5 years old.

The Taihape Area School student is fascinated by emergency services activities and personnel, which suits his dad, Constable Justin Moore, just fine.

James, 8, has Autism Spectrum Disorder and his father said when he gets hooked on something, he's very onto it and has a great memory.

As a surprise in the school holidays, Moore took his son to Palmerston North to see the dogs in action.


"Dog Squad's his favourite programme on TV. He has got to know the guys' names and he has met Jason Page before who's his favourite handler," Justin said.

"When we stopped outside the facility, he said 'Whoa, police dogs' and I said 'Yeah you're going to see them for the day'".

James got a tour of the Palmerston North Central Police Station, before being treated to a live demonstration with police dogs Uce and Vito.

Uce is the son of Gazza, a German Shepherd that was shot dead in 2016.

"James got to witness obedience, tracking and I even put the sleeve on and he saw Uce bite dad," Moore said.

"Meeting Uce made the day even more special for James, because he was extremely upset when Gazza was shot."

Gazza was four years old when he was shot dead by Pita Tekira in Porirua in 2016.

He copped the full force of a shot through a bedroom door in the Kokiri Cres house Tekira was holed up in for 23 hours before shooting himself dead.


Moore said the experience gave James a good insight into what goes on in the life of a police officer.

"It's not about all the bad stuff that gets seen in the media, there's a lot more behind the job than arresting people.

"There's a lot of training involved, especially for dog handlers. There's a lot that happens behind the scenes that people don't realise."

James has also been to visit local firefighters who gave him some gear as a gift.

Moore said when it comes to organising these types of experiences, it pays just to pick up the phone and ask.

"If you don't ask, you don't get anything. I'm based in Taihape and we've had plenty of people wanting to come in and look at the station.

"Our day was awesome. I was taken back by how much they went above and beyond to make the day something for James to remember."

After his experience, James completed his evaluation of the dogs and departed with some encouraging words for the handlers.

"Vito and Uce are going to make good police dogs and catch lots of bad guys," he said.

With all of his experience watching police dogs in action, he would know.