— -- A boy with a rare tumor is pleading with the Internet to help find his family's dog that went missing just days before he went into surgery.
Lauren Ducalo of Staten Island, New York told ABC News that her son Roman, 5, was sad to learn that Charlie, his grandmother's Maltese, disappeared from her home on Feb. 6.
"It really bothered him that night, he kept waking up every couple of hours asking if Charlie came back," Ducalo said. "[In the hospital], he said, 'Grandma's dog is gone. I have to hurry up with my surgery and help find him.'"
Roman was born with mesenchymal hamartoma of the chest wall, a condition that has resulted in him having an inoperable tumor on his cervical spine.
For the past year, Charlie the dog has been a healing factor for Roman--both physically and mentally, according to his mother.
"My mother had gotten this dog and it was an initial bond between the dog and my son," Ducalo said. "[Roman] would cry when he’d have to go to therapy, but you put him in the room with the dog, and he's rolling around the floor. My son didn’t walk until he was 2. It has been a therapy for him. It was Roman being a boy."
But on Feb. 6, Ducalo said her mother Linda returned home to find that Charlie was gone.
The family is unsure if the dog was physically taken, or if he sneaked out on his own, according to Ducalo.
On Feb. 9, just three days after Charlie disappeared, Roman went through VEPTR surgery to expand the metal rod on his ribs, which helps his breathing.
Since then, he's been asking for one thing and one thing only: for his buddy Charlie to return.
"He prays daily for Charlie to come back," Ducalo said. "He doesn’t understand that there's a big chance that the dog isn’t coming back...after this weekend if we don't find him, we'll have to tell him something.
"This is a family member, this is not just a dog," she added. "My mother is heartbroken. Things have not went right for my family in a very long time and when my mother found this dog she found company, and my son got attached. [Roman] misses the dog."
Ducalo said Charlie barks often, jumps like a bunny and was wearing his doggy tags when he went missing.
She said she hopes media exposure helps reunite Roman with Charlie.
The family is offering a $1,000 reward for Charlie's safe return.