But Robert Runkle got great news this past weekend when he discovered that his 4-year-old Yorkshire Terrier "Lola" had been returned with the help of his neighbors in the city's Potrero Hill neighborhood.
The dog, which is registered with the city as a service animal to provide companionship to Runkle, was stolen out of his car on Nov. 19 as it was parked on 14th Street between Castro and Noe streets while he was receiving dialysis at the medical center.
Runkle suffers from kidney failure and was also recently diagnosed with lymphoma.
He filed a police report, and his neighbors, including next-door neighbor Tracy Moon, posted fliers around the city asking for information about Lola's whereabouts and offering a $3,000 reward for her return.
Nearly two weeks went by without any leads.
"I really gave up hope at that point," Runkle said. "It went on so long."
But then on Saturday afternoon, Moon received an email from a woman in Oakland who said she had found a dog running near Lake Merritt and thought it might be Lola after her friend told her about news reports on the missing pet.
Moon said she was suspicious but went out to East Oakland and discovered that the dog was indeed Runkle's.
"I couldn't believe it," she said. "Day after day, I didn't expect to see the dog again."
Moon paid the woman the $3,000 reward and brought Lola back to San Francisco, and surprised Runkle when he returned from a dialysis treatment.
Runkle said that after his appointment, he was going to go to a store to buy a hat since his hair is falling out from chemotherapy, and was confused when the medical staff told him he should go straight home instead.
Moon had notified the center of Lola's return but asked them to keep it a secret, and Runkle was overwhelmed when Moon surprised him with the dog.
"Oh my gosh, I almost fainted," he said. "I couldn't believe I had her back."
Runkle thanked his neighbor Moon, calling her "one in a billion" and "one of the most wonderful, generous human beings there is."
Lola has shown no ill effects from her two-week disappearance, Runkle said.
"She jumped in my arms," he said. "She wasn't the least bit traumatized at all."
The theft of Lola remains under investigation even though the dog has been returned. Anyone with information about the case is asked to call the Police Department's anonymous tip line at (415) 575-4444 or to send a tip by text message to TIP411.