Graeme Fawcett, a one-time resident at Takahue, and his wife Che plan to return to New Zealand from the Philippines early next year.

They would dearly love to bring their dog Nathan with them, but that will depend upon the response to their appeal for help.

Graeme said he had left Nathan, now about seven years old, in New Zealand when he went to the Philippines, but the dog was abandoned by the people he had entrusted him to. He was only saved from euthanasia because his microchip info included Graeme's email address, and, after an anxious and stressful time, he was able to get him to the Philippines.

Having decided to return to New Zealand, he was "shocked and dismayed" to learn that the process of bringing his dog with him would take up to eight months, and cost an estimated $15,000.

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"This is far beyond my means, as I only receive 50 per cent of my married NZ superannuation entitlement because I am living overseas," he said.

"The alternatives are to leave him here but believe me, the Philippines isn't a good place for a dog, or have him put to sleep. Having rescued Nathan from an abusive owner when he was nine months old there's no way I'm going to abandon him now."

Graeme has now opened a fundraising page in the hope of raising enough to cover the costs, including six months' required residence in Kuala Lumpur.

Any surplus, or if things didn't go to plan, would be donated to the SPCA.

It was just after 7am in Barobo, on Mindanao Island, when Graeme contacted the Northland Age. He had already taken Nathan for his early morning walk, although the pain from an arthritic hip meant he didn't enjoy the exercise as much as his dog did.

"I always attempt to find solutions to my problems independently, but this one is too big for me alone," he added.

He had been living in Upper Hutt when he adopted Nathan. Since then he had been part of the family at Takahue, in Kawerau, back to Takahue and now in the Philippines.

"Until I retired he usually went to work with me in Wellington, especially when I did night shift from at Wellington airport," he said.

"Here he has the best life we can give him, but he hasn't the freedom he enjoyed in New Zealand. Many of the wandering street dogs carry rabies. The Philippine government promotes a free yearly rabies vaccination and responsible owner education programme, but the street dogs miss out.

"Nathan sleeps in a padlocked room at night; my wife overheard some locals discussing how good he would be to eat. In contrast he has become a local celebrity, especially with the children, who know him by name and are entertained by his agility and retrieval skills.

"I am constantly warned to be careful when walking Nathan as all 'foreigners' are regarded as wealthy and have been targeted for robbery and kidnapping in the past. I have established a good rapport with the local police patrols; they know our address and that Nathan is friendly. Generally people here are very welcoming; I actually feel safer here than I did at times in Kaitaia.

"I will be heartbroken if I am unable to continue to love and care for Nathan. Please help us live out our lives together."