An Auckland family offering $10,000 for the return of their "beautiful" pooch say they are not giving up, despite him being missing for almost three months.
Gage the german shepherd, aged about 2, went missing on the Bakalich family's lifestyle block on West Rd in Brookby on May 7.
Karen Bakalich and her husband, Colin, are panel beaters in Manukau and have lived on the South Auckland property for 14 years.
Mr and Mrs Bakalich and their three sons are now desperate to have Gage back, and Mrs Bakalich said their 2-year-old huntaway Tilly also "misses him terribly".
The two dogs were out running with son Jeremy when they entered a section of bush on the family property. When Tilly ran out of the bush soon after, covered in wasps, she was alone. The family have not seen Gage since.
"What we're picking is that because he's a long-haired german shepherd, the wasps just got him and he's got a fright and he has run," Mrs Bakalich said.
The family spent the rest of the night searching for him and in the weeks and months following have extended their search to the surrounding areas - doing pamphlet drops, messages on social media, and taking out an ad in the local paper. They have also posted a Trade Me ad appealing for sightings.
Though nothing had worked so far, they were not going to give up yet. "We really want him back. Your dogs are just like your children, really, aren't they?"
The only positive lead came five days after Gage's disappearance, when a woman phoned to say she saw a dog matching Gage's description running up West Rd the night he went missing.
Mrs Bakalich did not believe Gage was dead.
She said the family had been receiving messages of support from animal enthusiasts in the community on social media.
However, with Gage being a "beautiful, pure-breed german shepherd", Mrs Bakalich admitted "not so good people out there" may have found the family pet and kept him.
"If someone's got him, we want him back and we're prepared to pay that money to get him back ... that may be what it takes."