IT’S been a busy year for Wayne Thackray and his search and rescue dog Dodge.

The pair have been involved in 49 missions since they qualified 12 months ago.

Wayne, of Crosland Moor, has been as far afield as South Wales as part of his duties.

He said: “It has been a phenomenally busy year, I didn’t appreciate how much work there would be.”

Wayne, 41, is one of 30 search and rescue dog handlers in England and can be called out to anywhere in the country to help look for missing people.

He is on 24-hour call with Dodge, who he began training in 2006.

The pair qualified last October 8.

Wayne said: “There was two years of training which culminated in a three-day assessment in a mountainous area in winter.

“We went on two searches each day to find volunteer ‘bodies’.”

But now Wayne and Dodge are doing it for real. They have been involved in dozens of searches, including for missing York chef Claudia Lawrence.

And the pair made their first find in Sheffield on June 1 when they discovered the body of a man.

Wayne said: “We were searching in thick woodland when Dodge ran off to the right up a 60 degree slope. He came back towards me and gave the world’s biggest bark and then led me to the body.

“It’s not the outcome that everyone wants, which is to find the missing person alive. But I don’t look at it negatively. If you find someone dead it means their family will be able to get some closure.”

Three-year-old border collie Dodge is with Wayne all the time.

He said: “Dodge is a very gregarious, fun-loving dog with a wicked glint in his eye. He’s a bit of an unruly teenager, but you need that strength of character and independence.”

As well as working with Dodge, Wayne has continued with Hepworth-based Woodhead Mountain Rescue Team.

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