The White Shepherd is the first assistance dog given to a New Zealand Veteran and already Dion is calling for easier access for others.
Dion was shot by a sniper in the Battle of Baghak in 2012. Two of his fellow soldiers were killed in the conflict.
Since then he’s been battling with post traumatic stress injury and complex regional pain syndrome.
Despite therapy and medicine, he deals with extreme daily pain and anxiety.
But since receiving four-month-old Delta, he says that’s already starting to change.
"My safe place used to be the house but now its my bedroom. That’s how confined it is now," he says.
"But with Delta its opening that back up."
Funds from the annual poppy appeal helped pay for Delta and her training and this year’s appeal could fund more dogs for other soldiers.
Merenia Donne, head of the Kotuku Foundation Assistance Animals Aotearoa which helped fund Delta, hopes she could be the first of many.
"Dogs like Delta have been proven for veterans to be life changing," she says.
"In the USA they have a horrific rate of suicides, 22 a day with their veterans. And what they found was that every single veteran that has been partnered with a dog, not one of them has attempted to take their life"
© TVNZ 1 News
'Life changing' - canine helper Delta makes big difference for wounded Kiwi war hero
Her name is Delta and for Dion Taka she’s life-changing.
TVNZ 1 NEWS Reporter
Assistance Dogs Charity Category 3rd Place Winner Craig Turner-Bullock
Title of image: ‘A Veterans Best Friend’
Dog: Delta, White Swiss Shepherd
'I am an ambassador for the Kotuku Foundation for Assistance Animals Aotearoa, who source, train and place dogs with people who have any diagnosed condition that dogs are known to be capable of assisting with. This includes diabetes, head injuries, depression and PTSI and many more. Dion is a veteran who fought, and was injured, at the battle of Baghak in 2012. He experienced PTSI and says that ever since Delta came into his life she has made a huge difference. Dogs assisting veterans are now common around the world, but Delta is the first of her kind here in New Zealand.'
- Craig Turner-Bullock
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