George Carpenter, 74, of San Luis Obispo was reported missing Dec. 23, 2009, after he took the family dog to Laguna Lake Park and didn't return home.
He was last seen driving his 1989 Jeep Comanche to the park with his black Labrador retriever, Scooter.
Nearly a month later, a man living near the Big Sur community of Gorda off Highway 1 reported that Scooter wandered up to his home in the late afternoon. The dog appeared to be thin and in fair condition, authorities said. The home was about seven miles into the woods.
Three days later, Carpenter's vehicle was found near Fort Hunter Liggett in southern Monterey County.
Despite several searches of the area, Carpenter hasn't been found.
Carpenter was described as an avid hiker in good physical shape with a passion for geology. He worked a number of years in law enforcement, retiring from the Morro Bay Police Department.
Dixie Carpenter, his wife of 53 years, said her husband didn't say or do anything unusual on the day he disappeared. She'd gone out to run a few errands, and when it got dark, she began to worry.
Beth Wonson, Carpenter's daughter-in-law, said the questioning never ends.
"When do you cancel insurance on the truck? When do you stop auto-fill on medications? I have so much more compassion for others who go through this."
Those involved with the search were disappointed when Carpenter was not found.
"The hardest thing to do is to call a search off," said sheriff's Sgt. Mark Maki, who coordinates the local search-and-rescue program. "But you could literally search every day for the next couple of years and at some point, you have to say we've put enough resources in, and it is well past the point of diminishing returns."