Thames takes annual leave after rescue

Venkat Raman – 

Police dog Thames, who caused a flutter in the hearts of thousands of people after he went missing in the North Island, is now on ‘annual leave,’ taking a well-earned rest.

Thames takes annual leave-Thames wiht Mike WakefieldHe was found on top of the Tararua Ranges on Saturday, May 9 by Handler Mike Wakefield and John McCann.

Three-year old Thames went missing during a training exercise with the Wairarapa Search & Rescue Squad in the Totara Red Creek area on Sunday, May 3.

Since then, there was abiding interest among a cross-section of the society and hundreds of people expressed their concern and were keen to know of his safe return.

Public concern

Among them were Indian Newslink readers and members of the Asian Advisory Board of the Auckland City District Police, South Asian Advisory Board of Counties Manukau District Police and Police Commissioner’s National Ethnic Focus Forum.

“Hungry, a bit skinnier in the week of foraging, Thames was fit enough to walk out to the Mt Holdsworth Road about 5 pm along with his happy handler and the rest of the six-person team,” Kaye Calder, Public Affairs Manager of New Zealand Police said.

The rescue

According to her, it was a big fresh paw print in the mud, which gave Constable Wakefield and the search team a welcome boost as they systematically scoured the area.

Fresh signs near Flaxy Knob got the team excited with Wakefield and McCann pushing on towards Powell Hut. The pair spotted Thames in the bush just before a clearing.

“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,” Constable Wakefield said.

Thames looked better than expected after his adventures, and was fit enough for the four-hour trek out to be greeted by Wakefield’s family, colleagues, friends, members of the public and media.

GPS track

Police dogs do not wear any tracking device since it is rare for them to go missing. However, with the growing need and multiplicity of tasks, which are assigned to them, the Police are currently experimenting GPS trackers.

“We are considering the best operational fit for our dogs as well as looking at the technical requirements,” she said.


Thames with Mike Wakefield after rescue

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