Five weeks is a long time for a 5-year-old, yet Toby Scott is not giving up hope yet.
Two of his best mates, dogs Ace and Rex, have disappeared.
His optimism is tempered by the attitude of his parents Andrew and Sana Scott, who admit hope is dwindling, despite offering a $3000 reward for finding their pets.
Mr Scott said when they got up on April 28 the dogs had gone.
Ace, a 2-and-a-half-year-old purebred German shepherd, was let off his chain at the family’s Stafford St home in Ranfurly sometime overnight.
More alarming was that pure-bred Jack Russell Rex, the same age as Ace and who usually slept in the house, was let out.
Mrs Scott said neither dog had barked, which they usually did at strangers, although Ace was still “very pup-like” and his bark was more of a whimper.
Mr Scott canvassed neighbours in the quiet Ranfurly street and contacted nearby farmers in case the dogs had decided to worry sheep. None had seen them.
Mr Scott, who runs the 2800ha Kyeburn Downs Station with his father, also considered the dogs might have made the 15km journey to the farm, but there was no sign of them.
They then turned to social media.
“Every time someone shared a post we picked up hope, but it’s dwindling,” Mr Scott said. Posts he and his wife had made had been shared more than 1000 times, but with no result.
They had added a reward recently as extra incentive for information leading to finding the dogs, he said.
For Toby, no news is bad news: “I just want them back.”
Mr Scott said their 14-month-old second son Beau had been robbed of the opportunity to know the dogs.
Given their location at the edge of the Maniototo town, he believed the dogs were taken, possibly for breeding purposes.
Neither was desexed and despite not having their pedigree papers with them, any offspring could still fetch a reasonable price.
Both dogs had distinguishing characteristics: Rex has white saddle-like hair on his back, dotted with 10 brown spots. Ace had two distinctive black spots on his tongue and a pedigree tattoo inside his right ear that starts ASH.
The couple have set up the firstname.lastname@example.org email address in the hope someone might come forward.