Thames, the police dog that went bush for a week last year, is prepped and ready for another year on the force.
The 4-year-old German shepherd and his handler, Constable Mike Wakefield, were heading back to the station on Wednesday after having had a two-week break over the Christmas holidays.
Thames hit the headlines last year after he went missing during a training session in the Tararua Range in May.
His disappearance sparked a frantic search with Mr Wakefield, dozens of volunteers, fellow police dog handlers and off-duty officers all taking the time to scour the rugged terrain and battle heavy wet weather conditions to find the much-loved pooch.
Fortunately his bush adventure had a happy ending when he was spotted and brought back home, a little skinnier and a little hungry -- but otherwise unhurt.
The NZ Herald caught up with the notorious Wairarapa pooch and his handler of almost four years, eight months on from the week-long ordeal in the bush. Mr Wakefield said it had taken Thames a good week after he'd gone missing to get back to his usual self.
"He was pretty keen to keep me in sight, at first, he was pretty subdued ... but then he totally got back into it."
Mr Wakefield said, in the months since, his working buddy had just gotten right back into the thick of life as a working police dog.
"He's an easy going dog, with his own character, nice and friendly with his own personality," he said. "We have fun together knowing we are keeping the community safe."
Despite the frantic week-long search, Mr Wakefield said there was never any doubt Thames would return home.
"He was always going to come back, it was just a matter of time," he said. "We knew we'd find him, he's pretty resilient."
The week in the bush seemed not to have left a long-lasting mark on the police dog who still enjoyed a good forage in the wild.
"He just loves the bush, did some training there a few days ago," he said. "He just loves it."
But despite Mr Wakefield's confidence in Thames' return, he said it was definitely good to have the fifth member of the family home for the festive season.
They even treated gave him a special Christmas treat -- in the form of a doggie chew toy. NZME