An Oxford family involved in search and rescue for three generations is celebrating its latest achievement. Ron Ealam's father, Denis, founded the Oxford LandSAR in 1968. Ron joined the organisation in the mid-seventies, with his son Jeremy following in his footsteps.
However, the latest member of the family to take up a rescue role is part of the dog dynasty.
Last month, Ron Ealam's three-year-old border collie Sika was his second dog to qualify as fully operational.
Sika had cut her teeth searching for missing Christchurch woman Emma Campbell in the Port Hills.
"That was one of the places where the dog can get in under [the bush] and you can't. A dog can clear an area in the fraction of the time a whole team could do it," Ealam, 54, said.
The key to training a dog was getting them to recognise human scent and then be able to know when they were on someone's trail. "You need to be able to read them and notice the change in behaviour when they are tracking," Ealam said.
"It's quite rewarding to actually find someone and know that the dog is part of it. You develop quite a bond with the dog."
Ealam, who is chairman of the Oxford LandSAR group, said it was keen to recruit new members.