Stu Rota has since been reunited with his dog Dakota, who recently retired from police work.
No other dog led a life like Dakota, with her last moments spent with her friend and companion Stu Rota.
The recently retired police dog passed away unexpectedly on Friday night after being reunited with Rota after a year.
The 9-year-old German shepherd and police dog took off their vests for the last time after working in the squad of armed criminals, swinging out of a helicopter and sniffing off offenders on the street.
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Although Dakota was diagnosed with an illness called Addison a few years ago, Dakota was able to continue working while he was on regular medication.
Addison’s disease is diagnosed when the pancreas stops producing adrenaline.
It was later decided to retire Dakota slightly early because of her condition, but mainly because she “deserved” time off.
Rota, originally based in Wellington, had been her handler since she was 15 months old, but the two were separated when he moved to Gisborne in 2019 to take advantage of another police opportunity.
Dakota is in the lead during a boat operation.
Dakota then worked with a new handler, Senior Constable Sam Bennett.
But six weeks ago Rota was contacted by his former sergeant major and asked if he would like to be reunited with his old friend and colleague.
Rota, who was traveling to Napier to pick her up, didn’t hesitate for a moment.
“She just whined when she saw me – it sounded like she was crying. It pushed through my legs and pressed against me. She was just so excited – once she got that out of the way, she was back to normal. Ball in her mouth and she was gone. “
The couple bonded as soon as they were originally introduced and became inextricably linked while working in both the armed criminal squad and the dog treatment unit.
Rota trained Dakota at a young age to deal with loud noises so that she could work effortlessly on noisy machines like helicopters and boats.
“I would take her to the airport by the Westpac hangar and play with her while helicopters take off.”
Dakota’s life was anything but mundane, from helicopters on special police operations, including at sea, to seventh place in the 2018 Police Dog National Championships and appearing on national television.
Nine-year-old Dakota had to retire because of Addison’s disease, where the pancreas can no longer produce adrenaline.
“She’s pretty friendly and loves being around people, but the moment she put her vest on, she knew she was at work,” Rota said.
A memorable moment I had with her was when a man ran away from a police officer at a traffic stop in Porirua.
We tracked features for over two hours – jumping fences and all sorts – two hours is a long time a dog can track.
“We got to a point where she was so tired that I actually took her to someone’s house and gave her a drink from the tap, and she lay down for 15 minutes. Then we followed for another half an hour, then we caught the culprit hiding in a garage. “
Dakota and her handler Stu Rota during a training exercise at Wings of Wairarapa.
Her final weeks went from action packed to luxurious. She didn’t have a kennel, but had a “massive bed” on Rota’s deck and “owned the back yard,” with two feeds in the morning and at least two walks a day on the beach.
“It was just great to have her at home. The bond you have with your dog is really inexplicable and due to its nature and the things I was able to do, be it in a helicopter or a boat, it took me as much as I did.
“She was trustworthy and loyal. She was just a beautiful dog. “