Thieves can keep the dinner plates and the computer. The family will live without the jewelry, the camera, the curling iron, the makeup.

But they don't want to live without Roni, a 10-pound Maltese that stayed by the side of a 20-year-old woman who battled bone cancer and learned to walk again.

The thieves took Roni's crate, the place he goes when he's scared. They took his leash, his bowl, his treats.

"The things we accumulate in life don't matter," Catherine Greenslade said. "They can keep it all. They've just got to give us back our Roni."

But the family doesn't want Roni back because he's a fad. When Emily Miller turned 20, she had bone cancer. Doctors performed surgery to save her leg. In a year of chemotherapy and finally, remission, Emily spent hours in bed, whispering secrets and fears to the little dog.

"If I needed something I'd tell Roni to go get mama and he'd jump off the bed and go woof at her until she came to me," said Miller.