The owners of a lost sausage dog were distraught when one of four mediums they called to help find their beloved pet told them the dog is dead.
Ben and Emily Scott have posted a $2000 reward for the safe return of their miniature, short-haired dachshund who went missing overnight on May 30 from their King Country farm.
Cooper, an Instagram celebrity dog with 16,800 followers, disappeared from the 700ha farm in the hills above Te Kuiti following a thunderstorm.
The couple have been scouring their farm and neighbouring properties since and in desperation called four mediums at the suggestion of friends.
One of the mediums, based in the United Kingdom, made the couple pay $150 upfront before telling them the much-loved member of their family had died a horrific death.
"She said he had jumped over a log and it had gone wrong and rolled on him, broken his leg and then he'd basically drowned in the mud," Emily said.
"This was at night time, so we couldn't go and search until the morning. So I was hysterically crying all night. I was crying so much on the phone Ben had to finish the call for me."
The medium was the only one of the four who asked for details about the family and their location first.
Each of the others, all New Zealand based mediums, knew intimate details without asking, such as the number of dogs they have, and where a particular patch of gorse was located on their farm.
However each medium, two women and two men, offered a different theory has to what had happened to the 3-year-old dog, including that he had been picked up by school children and taken a 90-minute drive away to Tokoroa in the South Waikato.
The couple, who also run Waitomo Hilltop Glamping, followed up on all the leads to no avail.
"We can't find him. If he was in a little pocket of the bush and we called him he would come to us," Ben said.
"We just don't know what's become of the little guy. He's a pretty cool little dog."
Cooper's Instagram page My Little Sausage shows how much the pooch is adored by his family.
Photos of him as part of the couple's engagement and wedding days, with their 11-month-old daughter Willow, in costumes, at the beach, in the back of the ute, on the farm and with mate Ralph, attest to their love for the pet.
Cooper is microchipped and wears a collar but Emily said the collar sometimes falls off.
She was hoping a kind resident had found Cooper and was looking after him, oblivious to the dog hunt going on.
Ben said the couple received a message from a member of the public who saw yesterday's Herald article on the missing dog, about a small, unusual dog running up her road.
The call came from a resident about 5km away and Emily had gone to search the area.
Cooper's mate Ralph, a 2-year-old black and tan long-haired dachshund, was also forlorn, Emily said.
"It's just so unusual that they would not be together. They are glued at the hip. Ralph has never been alone. He's really sad and just moping around the house."