Dogs are man's best friend.

And Takahue farm worker Pete Roy will swear by the saying after his huntaway-collie cross Max saved his life when his bowel burst while he was preparing to saddle up his horse about four weeks ago.

Mr Roy, 54, crawled from a paddock to his home, blood from his mouth covering his face. Max howled in distress until Mr Roy ordered "Go get Angie" and his mate for 10 years hared off to Angela Rose-Collins' home about 500m down the road.

She was doing housework when Max arrived. He's a regular visitor so she gave him a pat and sent him on his way.

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But Max came back three times, and on his last visit he took off with Angela's foxy, Roxy, back down the road to Pete's house, where he put his paw on the little dog so she couldn't run home.

Ms Rose-Collins went looking for Roxy, and St John Ambulance officers she called to take Mr Roy to Whangarei Hospital said he would have died in an hour if they hadn't arrived.

Surgeons at the hospital sewed up the burst bowel, fitting Mr Roy with a colostomy bag to be removed in about six months.

The injured man is now back home and healing, full of affection for Max.

"He's a smart dog and so gentle," Mr Roy said.