Most Recent Possible Sightings

Confirmed Sighting: May 9 2012, north Chevy Chase. [2011]December 11, neighborhood outside Colombia Country Club. October 20, Colombia Country Club. September 14, Candy Cane City and into Rock Creek Park. September 7 or 8, Brookville and Shepherd in Chevy Chase, and then back south on Connecticut to Chevy Chase circle (where she is getting water, we believe). August 28th, on Thornapple in Chevy Chase, and then headed south on Connecticut!

(For other sightings, see archive at the bottom of the page.)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Crank Calls: The Unexpectedly Cruel Part of the Sass Search

Rather early on in the search we received calls that simply said "I've found your dog" and then the call ended. Or, the original call would go on a bit longer and we'd ask where the caller was located or other details and he'd say "I need to call you back" and never do so. Often we would call back, if the incoming number was visible... often the numbers were blocked/unlisted. We've since gotten a bit cynical and have an ear for middle schoolers (?), but each of these calls rips at your heart... The "I've found you dog" is just what we want to hear, and instinctively crank callers know to start with that.

After last weekend's big effort, the calls have started coming back in... We take turns carrying the cell phone and we've both come to dread it, especially on weekdays, when we can expect to receive crank call(s) around 3:30 from kids getting out of school.

We've each separately wondered whether this type of thing was worth blogging about, but everyone I tell about these crank calls is surprised, so maybe it is. Of course, many kids made crank calls in their youth and some adults I talk with are a bit more amenable to forgiving this behavior, but it's hard for us. I've thought about putting the crank callers' phone numbers up on Craigslist and encouraging people to call them and tell them how awful they are, or otherwise make these crank callers more visible, in hopes of getting some change in behavior (or maybe revenge). But, something makes me think such a response is not appropriate from an adult.

So, here, I'm going to share a bit more about these calls, maybe just to get the pain a bit off my chest, and as a writing exercise in preparation of trying to get media interested in picking up Sass' story....Below are the difficult details about a few calls.

I've Eaten Your Dog

Fortunately, we missed receiving this particularly cruel call and it went to voicemail. The audio speaks for itself.

I'm Holding Your Dog Down, Come Get It

There have been a few versions of this type of call, but today one caller was particularly persistent and creative (in the worst of ways). Instead of sounding nervous and cruel (we can tell now, we think) he sounded very sincere about seeing our dog on 14th street (but could not give a cross street... near Target?). Of course, this kid had an unlisted number. He called back a couple minutes later saying that he was afraid of the dog, and as the call went on claimed that the dog had tried to steal his food, then bitten him, and then that "he needed help" after which he got off the phone. He actually did sound very scared. Finally a couple hours later, he called again saying his friend was holding down our dog. We asked where he was (14th and U), his name (Jerrell?), and his phone number (to which he gave too many digits and the call was breaking up)... I asked to speak to an adult who could help out, to which he said that the person holding the dog could not come to the phone. So, I asked him to describe the dog and what it was wearing. He provided a description that sounded like the poster picture of Sass. I asked about a collar, to which he again described the collar in Sass' poster picture, which is a bit different than what she was wearing when lost... But still, he sounded sincere and we stayed on the phone. So, I asked him to hold the phone to the ear of the person holding the dog, after which things got rather crackly and hard to hear, before the call ended.... This call gave us enough pause that we asked one of the team members who lives closer to the area to go check out the location... Nothing, of course...

[Side note on this story: in the sequence of these calls, another boy called with an unlisted number saying that people were in the street beating Sass. Beth asked him to tell us the location so we could call the cops, and suggested that he could help point out the offenders to the cops. Not unexpectedly, he quickly ended the call.... Was this a friend of the other caller? Or, simply unrelated?]

How Big Is The Reward?

One caller rang us twice asking about the size of the reward. Early in the day he said he had seen Sassafras, and then later in the day called back saying he had Sass in his arms but that Sass was likely to get away, and wanted to know the size of the reward. Beth asked patiently what the dog was wearing and when he asked why she was asking, she said she wanted to know if he actually had our dog before talking about the reward. At that point, the caller stopped sounding sweet and said "listen, bitch, I just want to know how much is the reward" and hung up.

A Hopeful Sign...

Sometimes the boys who call (and they are nearly always boys) end up passing the phone around trying to out cruel the other, saying they have our dog, are kicking our dog, are beating our dog. The other day, I asked the kids why they were being so mean and I could actually hear some other kids in the background asking them why they were doing this. Eventually another boy (who tried to say he was one of the teachers, but the voice was not convincing), got on and said he was taking the phone away from them and wouldn't let it happen again...


  1. I'm really sorry that you are experiencing the cruelty of some bad eggs in the community. It's really unfair of people to be so hurtful to others. It is in my experience extremely unusual to receive so many cruel calls. Has a tracker been contacted to see if any of the sightings are valid?

  2. Jeff & Beth -- I'm SO sorry you're having to endure this on top of Sass being missing, which is bad enough in itself. If only there was a way to prevent that type of call.

  3. Many of us made crank call as kids, but they were stupid jokes not cruel calls to people in vulnerable situations. These kids are heartless and will probably wind up in juvenile detention in a few years.