I have the best dog in the world. While most dogs are friendly, have playful dispositions and almost all puppies are cute, my dog takes it to another level.

My dog seems to make it his personal ambition to convert everyone he meets to be his biggest fan. He succeeds. Always. My mother will attest to this – being the biggest cat lover there is and not liking dogs at all – after a month’s visit she tried to smuggle my dog home in her suitcase. He has charmed every single guest we’ve had. He went to the  vet the other day and flirted shamelessly with all their staff.

My dog licks baby’s toes and makes them giggle. My dog shares his biscuits with other dogs. My dog puts his paws on the side of my face when I am sad. My dog comes and says thank you after we feed him by licking our hands, before returning to his food. My dog willingly eats his medicine, as if it were a treat.

My dog is not coming back to Australia with us. At least, not yet.

After months of emails and logistical nightmares and red tape and creative solutions and outsourcing services, we had to say enough. The bill had slowly climbed from $3000 to $4000, to $4500 and is currently sitting at about $6000. It could be higher. We’ve had several generous friends and family members offer to loan us large amounts of money. We’ve been overwhelmed with love and support. But with no job offers and a small savings account and an already not insignificant loan to repay to other family members, this didn’t seem like the smartest idea, to borrow with no concrete way of returning.

So, amidst tears, we found Piko a good home with our friends, who treat and feed their current dog well (an exception to the norm in Tonga) and are not likely to put our puppy in their umu (an underground oven. Dogs get eaten in Tonga.) I’m trying to be reassured by the fact that our dog will LOVE his new playmate at his new home. Our friends have the gentlest dog in the world, who also happens to be the size of a house and is the former customs dog from the airport.

We’re hoping this will only be a temporary home and that in 9-12 months, when things are settled, when can try this horrible exporting process again.

If you’re reading this and thinking “it’s just a dog” then you obviously don’t get it and have never had the un-conditional love of the best dog in the world. If you are thinking “it’s just a dog” then you can just p**s off now.

He’s not just a dog to me. He’s the dog that we saved from certain death and nursed back to health, anxiously losing sleep most nights for the first month. He’s the dog that cheers me up after crappy days when training has been cancelled and colleagues have been less than supportive and cross cultural faux pas happen. He’s the dog that is so awesome and loved, he gets featured in people’s birthday cards. He represents all the good things that have happened in Tonga.

Life has been tough around these parts lately. I could give you a long list of the crappy stuff that has happened to us. Ranging from the incredibly painful (too personal to mention) to the worrying (no job offers yet for either of us) to the just plain inconvenient ($500 AUD stolen from my bank account). And there’s more. Oh, there’s more. I could make you feel really sorry for me if I wanted to.

But I’ll just ask for prayer instead. It’s needed.

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