Graeme Fawcett's family is finally complete, two years after they returned to the Far North from the Philippines, leaving one member behind.
Nathan, a 9-year-old labrador, has now joined Graeme, his wife Che, children Charles (CB) and Skylar, and Dixie, an older dog of indeterminate breed, at their home at Takahue.
The reunion marked the end of a long, emotional and expensive journey, which began in early 2019. And the future for Nathan wasn't looking good when Graeme appealed for help via Givealittle and the Northland Age in April that year, given that it was going to take about eight months, and $15,000, to get the dog to New Zealand.
In fact it took two years, and cost about $21,000.
Nathan came to be in the Philippines only because the people Graeme had trusted to care for him had not done so. He ended up in the pound, but was saved by his microchip, which included Graeme's email address.
Getting him back again was always going to be difficult and expensive, however. And it would not have been possible, he said on Monday, without the generosity of a donor known to him only as Don, who gave him $5000 towards the cost and offered to lend him what was needed.
That had left the family with a significant debt, which they were about to begin repaying, but the only options had been to leave him in the Philippines or put him to sleep.
"Believe me, the Philippines isn't a good place for a dog," Graeme said in 2019, "and having rescued him from an abusive owner when he was 9 months old there's no way I'm going to abandon him now."
He had been living in Upper Hutt when he adopted Nathan. Since then the dog had been part of the family at Takahue, in Kawerau, back at Takahue and the Philippines.
Graeme, by that time settled back at Takahue, had better news in October last year. Nathan had made it as far as Kuala Lumpur, where he was about to complete his six months' quarantine.
He was living in the home of a pet sitter and then, after meeting all the requirements, including vaccinations and other vet treatments, flew to Auckland where he was again quarantined before he was reunited with his family.
The reunion took place in Auckland, and Nathan had settled in well, Graeme said, showing all the signs of having been well cared for and displaying the energy of a puppy.
He was now devoting most of his waking hours to beseeching his master to throw a tennis ball for him to fetch.