After months of worrying about what had happened to his "constant companion", an elderly Napier man's dog has been returned.
Doug Hodgetts' dog, Tabatha, went missing on October 29 from Munro St in Napier.
The search for the canine, presumed stolen after it went missing from outside Ace Second Hand Shop, went viral on social media, with the public even offering rewards to help find the little terrier.
Hodgetts, 80, said he was delighted to have his four legged friend home after 74 days of concern.
"I'm just so pleased to have her back - a piece of me was missing while she was gone," he said.
While Tabatha was missing, Hodgetts acquired a 7-month-old fox terrier-Jack Russell cross from a friend's daughter in Dannevirke just before Christmas and named him Hope.
Even with a new companion, Hodgetts never gave up hope of finding Tabatha.
An Age Concern spokeswoman said the organisation received a phone call from a woman on January 11, stating she knew the dog's whereabouts and was going to return Tabatha to her rightful owner.
"I have no idea how they acquired Tabatha, she was not forthcoming with that information," she said.
The spokeswoman said Tabatha's skin, which requires daily medication as it has been untreated for so long, was in a poor condition when returned and she had put on weight, but was "very happy" to be back with Doug.
"It's a lovely start to the new year for them both."
Hodgetts said he would be taking the "terribly fat" Tabatha to the vets to get checked out, but his kind-heartedness meant he felt no anger towards to those who'd taken her in.
He said the lady who returned Tabatha told him her children had grown very fond of the Jack Russell, who they'd nicknamed 'Little Girl', and were deeply upset about giving her back.
He said he could never part with Tabatha but decided as an act of goodwill to gift them his new dog, Hope.