A FORMER farm dog is on the right track to become East Lancashire's next search and rescue hero.

Border collie puppy Billy, at just 11-months-old, is being put through his paces by owner Andy Holland.

And if he makes the grade he will become an accredited member of Bowland Pennine Mountain Rescue Team alongside his master.

Andy, who lives in Chipping, picked up Bill from a remote farm in Martindale, in the Lake District, in September and has been gradually introducing him to the skills he will need.

He told the Telegraph: "It can take about three years from when you first start training a pup to becoming a fully-fledged search and rescue dog.

"I've been trying him out with some basic search techniques, and working on his obedience. One of the them involves his squeaky ball and he's slowly picking things up."

This is the first time Andy, who helps to manager reservoir assets for United Utilities, has been involved in search dog training.

So he receives regular assistance from two colleagues, one who works for Cave Rescue Organisation at Clapham, near Lancaster, and another who is a member of Wharfedale Mountain Rescue Team, in the Yorkshire Dales.

Coupled with regular get-togethers with the Bowland Pennine team, Andy can also take advantage of away-days in The Lakes, Dartmoor, The Brecon Beacons and The Peak District, with other trainees, as Bill develops.

The pup was named in tribute to one of Andy's uncles, Billy McKnight, who passed away recently.

"We do a little bit every day with Bill and we've been told about the things he will have to complete to pass his registration test," added Andy, who has been volunteering with Bowland and Pennine since 2015.

"Bill didn't have a lot of human contact, out on the farm when he was younger, so we've been doing some social familiarisation training and he's getting used to being around people more now."