Axle is now a wa­ter baby

Central Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - SI­MON MAUDE

Re­cov­ery is go­ing swim­mingly for brave po­lice dog Axle.

In­jured in the line of duty while track­ing an Auck­land bur­glar in May, the 9-year-old ger­man shep­herd is padding his way back to health on what is ba­si­cally a tread­mill in an over­sized fish­tank.

Staff at a Sylvia Park vet­eri­nary cen­tre in east Auck­land have been work­ing with lov­able Axle and his de­voted han­dler Con­sta­ble Hamish McPhillips to get him back on the beat.

The elite armed-of­fend­ers-trained dog, one of only four in Auck­land, tore a lig­a­ment in his hind leg re­quir­ing surgery, phys­io­ther­apy and hy­drother­apy.

Axle has been us­ing a wa­teren­closed tread­mill to re­build mus­cle, strength and co-or­di­na­tion to get him fit for gru­elling beat work.

McPhillips said the day af­ter Axle was hurt, he ‘‘could hardly move’’, yet nearly six weeks on, one of his car­ers said he’s made ‘‘re­mark­able progress’’.

McPhillips, who Axle had lived and worked with for more than two years, was wor­ried when Axle pulled-up lame on the night­time shift.

‘‘You don’t know what it is at first, you don’t know if it’s ma­jor, he’s not a spring chicken any­more.’’

In a few months Axle will re­tire and go back to liv­ing with his orig­i­nal han­dler, se­nior con­sta­ble Tony Feasey.

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