Spot, the blind, nearly deaf, 18-year-old Cocker Spaniel, has been missing since Jan. 31 when Paul Rush had his truck stolen with his beloved dog inside while he was at an appointment at the Sandoval Regional Medical Center.

Rush, who lives in Anthony, New Mexico, has made trips to Albuquerque and Rio Rancho whenever possible to search for his best friend. And the financial strain from those trips has added up.

Karen Bennett-Gates, who lives in Farmington, has become emotionally invested in the saga of Spot. She has made three trips down to the metro area to help look for Spot. And she has started a GoFundMe to help Rush with gas money, hotels, food and to help with the $500 reward he is offering for the return of Spot.

“He told me about the things that were in his truck when it was stolen and the other problems that came with the truck,” Bennett-Gates said. “He’s not wanting to ask for help. He’s not going to ask people to donate money or anything. But I talked to him about it and he said, if it could help with opening different resources, like offering a larger reward or getting somebody with scent dogs or help open up other resources to search for Spot, he would be more apt to it. I just know the hardships that this has all brought on him.”

The GoFundMe went live on Thursday and has $440 of its $10,000 goal as of Friday afternoon.

Bennett-Gates is not just searching and fundraising to help Rush find Spot. She also started a “Searching for Spot” Facebook page where members can share ideas on where to search, how to search and any possible sightings of the blind dog. The Facebook group has 175 members.

“People can join the search and if nothing else, moral support and ideas,” Bennett-Gates said. “We just want ideas and helpful insights on where to look, ideas of where he could be or how he could have gotten there. Moral support is important, and if they can donate $10 to help, that’s good too.”

Bennett-Gates is, of course, a dog lover. She has eight rescues, five of which are seniors like Spot. She has been impressed with the Rio Rancho community since Spot was last seen near near Paseo del Volcan and Unser, roughly a mile from where he was stolen. That was nearly five weeks ago, and members of the community have rallied together to search the vast area since.

“Actually I can’t believe Rio Rancho and the people that have helped,” Bennett-Gates said. “There’s one guy who put like like 35 miles on this truck driving around those roads. This Rio Rancho community has just really surprised me.”

Rush is offering a $500 reward for the safe return of Spot, no questions asked.

Spot was wearing a collar and name tag. He is also chipped. If anyone sees Spot or recognizes the truck, they are asked to contact the Rio Rancho Police Department or the Sandoval County Sheriff’s Office.

“After listening to Paul talk about Spot, it just broke my heart even more,” Bennett-Gates said.