A vet check followed by some annual leave is in store for a police dog who spent a week missing in the bush.
The 4-year-old German shepherd disappeared during training in the Tararua Range last Sunday, sparking a frantic search by police.
Thames was found about 1pm Sunday afternoon by his handler Constable Mike Wakefield and experienced volunteer searcher John McCann.
A fresh paw print in the mud gave the SAR team a welcome boost as they systematically scoured the High Ridge area yesterday.
The dog was fit enough to walk out to Mt Holdsworth Rd about 5pm last night despite being skinnier and hungry after a week of foraging, Mr Wakefield said.
"I whistled and called but he ran off as if to say come this way before running back and giving me a big lick.
"He wolfed down half of my salami which is a treat for him, I gave him a cuddle and we had a big play. I was just lost for words."
A precautionary vet check is first on the agenda for Thames this morning and then Mr Wakefield will take him home for a couple of weeks of annual leave.
Then the duo will be back on duty in Wairarapa, he said.
"We can't wait," he said.
"It's great to have Thames come home. The response from colleagues, the SAR and civilian volunteers and the support from members of the public has been amazing. I can't thank people enough."