Brad Saville knew the bond between him and his beloved dog wouldn't changed during their two-month lockdown separation.

Savill, Queenstown ski patrol head of department, had been doing a three-month avalanche training programme with Bomber, in the mountains of Colorado for the season when the Covid-19 lockdown tore them apart.

Saville was able to get home before New Zealand closed its borders in late March, but Bomber had to stay behind and carry on the myriad tests and vaccinations to come back home.

Bomber finally landed in Auckland on May 26, endured the required quarantine, and was flown to Queenstown Airport this morning.


And dog and owner were as excited as each other.

Bomber is reunited with owners Brad and Clare Saville in Queenstown Airport this morning. Photo / James Allan
Bomber is reunited with owners Brad and Clare Saville in Queenstown Airport this morning. Photo / James Allan

"It was incredible," says Saville. "It was a long time waiting and definitely looking forward to that moment for quite some time and for him to come through those doors, for us to lock eyes again, I was pretty happy that he jumped into my arms the way that he did.

"I could tell that he was just as excited as I was to see me again."

Saville said he got Bomber as a puppy, intending to do avalanche training, and then went on a hunt for a good breed.

He ended up in Balclutha at a breeder of curly coated retrievers.

He slowly started training him and was now in the middle of training with LandSar's avalanche rescue dog team.

He hoped to get Bomber his novice qualification by the end of this winter, which would allow the 19-month-old to take part in regional searches.

The pair would then join the approximate 10 other qualified avalanche search owners and their dogs in New Zealand.


He chose Bomber's breed as retrievers were known as people dogs with good personalities and good characters, who were able to bond with people but able to be trained and work towards a specific task.

"I got him with the idea to train him as an avalanche dog. It's not a litter that was bred for avalanche dogs specifically, I just took him in and started training him on my own."

The pair would now have the weekend together before Bomber would go back to work with Saville at Remarkables Ski Field on Monday.