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.)

Wednesday, August 31, 2011


We are still waiting for the map of the track from Sam, but I had a long conversation with her today about what we could do next.  Sam doesn't feel we'll learn much of anything from continuing the track - we're days behind her, and won't catch up to her, and we know some of the broad outlines of her territory, so we can reasonably assume she's going to end up (or already is) in the neighborhood of American U.

She did suggest that we try new ways to get the word out - the flyers are good, solid ways to let people know, but she thinks that maybe the search could benefit from people having the information closer to home.  In other words, we're going to be asking for volunteers to put small flyers or business cards on car windshields in the targeted neighborhoods, and/or put them between the doors of houses.  If we're lucky, the next house Sass wanders into will then know where the phone number is to call, and won't have to go looking for it.

Sassafras is walking down the sidewalks, into yards, and people must be seeing her, but they aren't calling - we just haven't connected with them, yet.  We need someone to call and say, "she's in my yard right now!"

Want to help?  Shoot us an email at

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sassafras Tracked to Chevy Chase Elementary School [update] and then down Connecticut!

The sighting that was called in yesterday was Sassafras!  Sam and Salsa are on the job right now, and we'll have a map up tomorrow.  She is back in Chevy Chase, and walked right by Chevy Chase elementary.  Jeff has put up lots of flyers there and spoke to the principal tonight.  Please keep your eyes open, call us if you see her and take a look at our post, What to do if you see Sassafras.

UPDATE- The track then went back to Connecticut and headed south. We stopped when the track reached the circle at Chevy Chase Circle (at Western Ave)... was getting late

We would love to bring her home!

Track tonight - volunteer welcome

We'll be doing a track this evening from the 4000 block of Thornapple (Chevy Chase) and would welcome a volunteer or two. (See previous post.)

While initially it strikes us as unlikely that Sass would casually wonder in and out of someone's home, we're going to check it out and Sam will be coming down with Salsa (the tracking dog) later this evening. Because Sam is right now doing a separate track in Millersville, MD, we don't know the exact time our track will occur (likely start sometime between 6:00 and 9:00PM). We also don't know how long it will last-- if there's no scent, it's over in 5 minutes.... if a scent, could last 2-3 hours. Volunteers would either drive the "chase" car or walk along with the tracker.

With all the unknowns and uncertainly, it's a tough thing to ask you to volunteer for, but if this would fit in your schedule and you're interested, please email us at findsassafras at

[If we receive enough volunteer(s), I'll update this post saying so.] Wish us luck!

Monday, August 29, 2011

4000 block Thornapple (Chevy Chase)- Another Possible Sighting?

A woman just called and said that a dog that could be Sassafras went in her front door and out her side door yesterday between 4:00 and 5:00PM. She lives in the 4000 block of Thornapple Street in Chevy Chase. This is very close to where our positive tracks started in June!)

Folks in the neighborhood, please keep an eye out. (Or, if you know of a local dog owner who had a similar-looking dog off leash there yesterday, please let us know... The caller said she figured the dog was just being walked by someone and didn't make the connection until today... The dog was very calm and clean.)

Friday, August 26, 2011

Possible sighting - Capital Crescent Trail near mile marker 6

(Everything big in the Sass search happens around rain time...)

At about 3:45 PM today, a woman reported sighting a dog that could be Sassafras on the trail that goes under the bridge near mile marker six on the Capital Crescent Trail. (

She did not see the dog's face, but only from behind and above, and felt it looked like Sass' picture. The dog she saw had on a harness (she did not notice color) and she waited for what she felt was long enough to determine that no human was nearby.

 The dog was headed west (she thinks).

Folks in that area, please keep a look out. We can't get there very quickly and this sighting is not quite of clear enough quality to rate as highly likely....

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Possible sighting?? near 315 Upshur NW

This is in the category of one of the very hard calls to react to.

At about 11:15 a hard to understand person (couldn't tell whether male or female) said they saw a dog that could be Sassafras in a neighbor's yard. They gave the address as 315 Upshur NW... but it wasn't clear if that was their house or a neighbor's. Also unclear was whether the dog was inside the yard and contained, or just passing through. We asked about collar and tail and the match was not quite perfect...

We don't live in the neighborhood and when we called the person back, there was no answer. If anyone lives nearby and has more details, please let us know.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Still Waiting, Still Hoping

It's been many weeks since we've had a sighting, and, as you can imagine, it's difficult for us with the heat wave, earthquake and now a hurricane on the way.  We have had some telephone calls from people, and we appreciate every single one of them, even if the dog isn't Sass.  It means our flyers are up, people are seeing them, and there's still a chance that the next call with be her.

The good news in our email today is that Peanut, who went missing nearly a month ago, has turned up at a shelter and is being reunited with his people.

Still waiting, still hoping.

(photo: Sass as a puppy, late 2007)

Saturday, August 20, 2011


This blog is now much easier to tell people about... it's

(all the old links should still work...)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A quick reunion story (but not about Sass)

Because we have so many great posters up, we received a call this morning that a beagle wearing worn tags with the name "Dixie" was spotted around 8AM in the Bannockburn section of Bethesda.

The dog was described as an older beagle with worn tags (the caller could make out "Dixie" and the beginning part of a 301 number) and a harness on. The dog was friendly, and came up to the caller and rolled over and allowed her tag to be read. She also appeared exhausted and ran off after the caller's dog barked at her...

We were just about to approve a craigslist ad about Dixie to try to get the unknown owner in touch with the caller, when the caller phoned me to say that she had gone back again to look for Dixie. The caller captured Dixie and returned her home safely.

We sure hope someone as great finds Sassafras....

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Ideas! We love to hear them!

One of our volunteers has brainstormed an number of ideas - we love hearing them, and will be thinking about what is feasible with the resources available to us.  Please, jump in with your own ideas, or build on what's below!  

Just saw your documentary and was moved to try to brainstorm some ideas for raising awareness about Sass's plight.  Some of these may seem far-fetched, but please bear with me.  You can never have too many people looking for Sass, no matter where they come from or what their reasons are for finding her: genuine animal lovers, hero worship (more later), or folks who just want to be part of a good story, etc.
1) Have you ever considered putting your Sass flyer on promotional items: t-shirts, hats or buttons?  This could probably be done inexpensively online, or maybe one of your volunteers could do this.  You could give these items to American U students, joggers/bikers in targeted parks/areas, residents, commuters and the poor homeless folks living along Sass's path of travel, raising the community's awareness.
2)  Is it possible/feasible to get a mural or billboard with Sass posted somewhere in the city?
3)  Volunteer Barbecue-Picnic:  Since Sass is likely hiding out in parks during the day, hold a pot-luck picnic for your community of volunteers at one or more of the places/parks that Sass has been tracked or spotted: AU Park/Campus, Bayard or Rock Creek Park?   Create a large poster of Sass for the event, and offer Sass promotional items, and maybe even a burger/hotdog to park visitors, turning them into Sass spotters.  Some potential benefits:
*   raise the awareness among folks who live near and frequent those parks/locations.  
*   promotional items - like traveling flyers, will spread the word around the park area
*   these events would familiarize searchers with targeted areas, making them more likely to return to search for Sass or post flyers
*   strengthen the bond, communication, cooperation of your volunteers and even maybe add to the volunteer ranks a bit
*   capitalize on the event to raise more publicity, possibly get some more local news coverage.
*   add to the documentary by inviting the author of your documentary to film this part of the story.  It's is a compelling, moving story and he might want to continue following it all the way to it's resolution.  If he's unavailable, ask for volunteer filmmakers to capture the event for Sass's documentary.
You can control how large or small you want to make this.  If you are uncomfortable with the idea of a Sass picnic, then team up with a local animal rescue group or charity like the ASPCA and make it a homeless animal awareness and/or fund raising event, as well as a "Help Find Sass" event.  This could all be promoted via social media (or not), depending on the desired size of the gathering.

4) Viral PSA video:  This is more of a long shot, but publicity is Sass's best friend.  To create a viral video about Sass, an effort should be made to try enlist the help of local celebrities to do a short public service video in support of finding her.  This could be current/former sports figures from the Caps, Wiz, Nats and Redskins, sympathetic on-air personalities, etc.
Although she's not local, animal advocates like Betty White instantly come to mind. Some local athletes might be reasonably accessible.  An Ovechkin PSA, for instance, would instantly become a viral video in DC.  Michael Vick has been working with the Humane Society and would probably do this, given the chance.  As more and more of these PSAs get created, it becomes a phenomenon.  You might get more new coverage, possibly a mention on sports talk websites, tv, radio, etc.
The increased publicity would likely attract more volunteers, and hopefully, catch the attention of additional search/tracking experts who might help, even just for the glory (possibly for free, knowing how much you're already spent).  With all the publicity and an ongoing documentary/search mystery, the person that finds Sass would become an instant hero in a heart-warming story and documentary.
There's a huge community of animal lovers out there, willing to help. The more Sass's story grows and gets out there, the more good people will get involved.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Documentary - Search for Sassafras

We can't thank Jon Hussey enough for the very well done video he has done about the search for Sassfras. It's hard for us to watch, of course, but still amazing!

Also, we extend our thanks to Sam, Laura,  Jenn, and Dave who agreed to be interviewed for the video, and the extended community of volunteers who have been more help to us than they might know.

Direct link to video at

The Search for Sassafras from Jon Hussey on Vimeo.

Also available on YouTube at

Thursday, August 11, 2011

About to Hit 30,000 Page Views

Hard to believe, we're at 29,969 page views of this blog, about to hit 30,000. We've been amazed, uplifted, and able to hang on due to the support of the community that has been interested and helped.

Sure hope the next big spike in views is because we're found Sassafras.... Wouldn't that be spectacular?

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

And from the world of Twitter

Not exactly what we hope to see on the social networking sites, but I suppose an indication that our efforts are being noticed.  I feel sorry for these people.

Shani_minajjAug 09, 10:35pm via Twitter for iPad
RT @BigDaddyDemps: Dear Sassafras, Your owners have been looking 4 u forever so please go home or at least tell em to f**k off & stop putting up signs. -Thanks
NicoDoddAug 09, 9:18pm via Twitter for iPhone
@BigDaddyDemps sassafras has also likely changed his name by now.

NicoDoddAug 09, 9:05pm via Twitter for iPhone
@BigDaddyDemps sassafras blew the joint and left for Mexico. He aint comin back.
BigDaddyDempsAug 09, 8:29pm via Twitter for iPad
Dear Sassafras, Your owners have been looking 4 u forever so please go home or at least tell em to f**k off & stop putting up signs. -Thanks

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

PART TWO: Scam or Real Lead?

This is a follow up to our earlier post about a caller who said a neighbor was selling a dog that could be Sassafras and if we’d meet him and give him some money, he’d take us to where the person is. Of course, since we’re writing this you know we have not found Sassafras, which is what really matters. The question of whether we had a real or false lead is still unresolved, however, and we’ve greatly appreciated the interest, thoughts, advice and offers of help.

This rather long post is divided into three parts: (1) what we’ve done; (2) why we believe it’s a scam; and (3) possible next steps and our moral dilemma.


On Sunday, a friend had agreed to go with us to meet the caller at Georgia NW and Colombia, but when the caller would not provide more specific details, we decided not to go. Instead, we:

  •  put up about 20 flyers in the area (along Georgia Ave NW, between Colombia and Park) with Sassfras’ picture that said that she had possibly been sited, to call us anytime, and that a reward would be available for safe return. We’ve received no calls;

  • briefly visited the police station on Park, just off Georgia Avenue, and handed the attending police officer some of our Sassafras business cards and said that someone had called saying a neighbor in the area was selling a dog that could be ours. We did not file an official report. The police officer agreed that it sounded like a scam, that he was unaware of anyone selling dogs in the area, asked if we had called Animal Control, and took the cards;

  • tried to back trace the phone number of the caller using legal databases we have access to (that have been very helpful in breaking past scam/crank calls). The phone is a Baltimore extension and cell phone number, essentially meaning it can’t be back-traced by us;

  • using similar databases, tried to see how many people with the caller’s name (he only gave a first name) lived along the few blocks of Park near Georgia. There were 6 and we decided against knocking on their doors…;

  • put up a blog post;

  • emailed the information in the blog post, as well as the name and phone number of the caller, to a couple of the local news reporters who have done past stories about Sass, suggesting that this would be an interesting lead for them to follow. They have not expressed any interest;

  • yesterday, we called the Washington Humane society’s animal cruelty hotline. Since we do not have a location or strong reason to believe that an animal is being mistreated, they cannot do anything. They recommended we call the police.

  • yesterday, we called the police, who said we’d need to come in person to file a report. We did not file a report (see #2).


  • The story kept changing. At first the caller was not interested in a reward, but just wanted to help us. It was always unclear why he couldn’t just tell us where to go, if that’s the case. When he didn’t call back the first day, but did the next day and said the neighbor still had the dog (but that he didn’t tell the neighbor about us), that didn’t make sense. He should have just told his neighbor about us. As we explained to the caller, nobody would pay the person selling the dog more than we would. When he later refused to meet us without accepting a payment at first, wouldn’t say his full name, wouldn’t say where he lived, it felt more and more like a scam. He then provided more details about the house where the dog was being kept (in a basement, being well-treated… not bony at all, and that possibly had been given a bath), all of which sounded like an attempt to keep us interested…

  • If this caller was really an animal lover, as he claimed, we believe he would tell us the location. He should ultimately care more about the animal than a small amount of money he requested ($20).

  • Nobody has called us even two days after putting flyers up in the area.

  • The police knew nothing about anyone selling a dog in the area. (Of course, they probably wouldn’t, but it is a piece of evidence against the story)

  • It doesn’t make sense that someone would try to sell Sassafras. Although we love her dearly, she’s not a purebred. She’s not that friendly to strangers - ask our babysitter, at whom she barked every day for a year. She’s not a great commodity. Sure, there are stories of people out there stealing dogs and trying to sell them, but it’s hard to believe they would try to sell Sass.

  • Some details just don’t fit. The caller said that the dog was in good health and very friendly. Sass is unlikely to be in great shape after four months being lost and she never was that great with strangers. It simply does not fit that she would be found in this area, remain quiet, and match this description.

Of course, all these could be refuted….

It’s very hard to not follow every single lead, but after four months we’ve learned that to remain sane (and only slightly less emotionally downtrodden), we have to use some sort of filter if we want to have any life at all. We’ve had to deal with a lot of mistreatment by crank callers (besides just plain nasty calls about eating or killing our dog, we’ve also gone to places to meet callers to find them not there). We have leads that just can’t be followed or sound improbable, either because there was not enough detail or something in the description simply did not match. With all of these, it’s so hard not to second guess whether it was Sass. We still lose sleep, but ultimately have to come to some sort of peace with our actions. In this instance, it’s proving especially difficult.


There are obviously some possible things that can still be done:

  • call him again and agree to meet him (if he’s still willing);

  • call him again and threaten that we’ll talk to the police, explain that he is committing a crime by protecting someone with stolen property, or otherwise try again to get him to give us the location;
  •  file a police report;

  • put the caller’s name and phone number out on this blog;

  • give the caller’s name and phone number to a rescue group or other volunteers and ask them to follow up.

Given the reasons outlined as to why we believe this is a scam, we’re currently not planning to do any of the above. But, the moral dilemmas really come into play with the last two options.

Publicizing his name and number, and thereby unleashing the power of social media against this guy has a certain vindictive appeal. We’ve daydreamed abouttrying to get “revenge” of a sort against past callers by calling them in the middle of the night (turnabout is fair play!) or putting their numbers out online and recruiting volunteers to call tell them. But we are trying not to become bad people ourselves. And, to be honest, even though we think this is a scam, in some very small way it’s still possible that he’s being honest and we don’t want to turn him into a “rat” in his neighborhood, as he has asked us not to do.

The last option is the toughest. There’s the possibility that a dog is out there in need of a good home. In theory, a rescue group might be recruited to try to find out if this is true and take care of the dog (we simply are not in the emotional place to care for another dog).Do we now ask others to take this on? It feels morally wrong to us to ask others to do something we’re not willing to do.

And that's where we are right now.  We thank you all for your support, and comments both here on the blog and behind the scenes.  It's phenomenal, and we believe it is this community that will bring Sass home to us.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Scam or Real Lead? What would you do? Dog for Sale Georgia NW and Colombia (maybe Park?)

A gentleman called yesterday to say that he believed his neighbor had our dog, and was trying to sell her.

When we asked where we could find the seller, the gentleman stated his reluctance to give the seller's name/information because he didn't want to be perceived as a snitch.  We told him there was a reward for information leading to Sassafras' safe return.  He stated he didn't want a reward, and said he would call back again yesterday. He gave a location of Georgia NW and Colombia NW.

He didn't call back yesterday, but did this morning at 11AM saying he had meant to call yesterday but had been busy. He did inform us that he had gone to the house again last night just to check that the beagle was still there. He said the beagle was still there (kept in the basement, not outside, and being well treated). He told the person keeping the dog nothing about us, he said. We said the earliest we could get over to meet him  to be shown where the house was would be 3PM and he said to call him back at 2PM with our plans.

We called him back again at 2PM at which point he told us how he was an animal person (always had cats) and was 100% sure that the dog was Sassafras. We told him we were skeptical about this situation, to which he said we should always be careful. We told him we could be there at 4PM, which he said was fine... to meet at Colombia and Georgia. We asked for more details, and at some point he asked how big the reward was. We gave an impressive number, to which he immediately said "oh no, I wouldn't want that." But, what would be helpful to him was $35-40 to fix the fan in his car. We said if he didn't want to be a seen as a snitch he could just tell us the address and we'd be happy to pay him the $35-40 after we checked it out. He said we'd have to meet him and he'd take us directly to the house, but didn't want it to be known the he'd brought us there. Later he said we could just give him $20 and he'd take us to the house under the same conditions and that if it wasn't our dog we could get the money back (at which point he said he lived only 3 houses down from the house with the dog). He still refused to give an address but when asked pointedly about which street he lived on, he said Park.

We asked why he wouldn't give us the address and he said if he did then he wouldn't get anything out of it... we'd just walk away without paying. Despite trying to assure him otherwise, he still refused to give an address and just said to call at 4PM if we were meeting him at Georgia and Colombia. Whether we met him or not, he said he would take down one of the flyers in the area and give it to the person with the dog (who could, in theory, then contact us directly).

We have received many calls in the past from people who tell us a neighbor has the dog, and calls about unknown people selling dogs, but never one offering to take us to the seller. We also have doubts that Sass would allow herself to be captured by a stranger (see our FAQs).

So, what would you do?
1) Meet him
2) Put up flyers in the area
3) Call the police
4) Let it be
5) ???

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Volunteers Wanted!

As you all know, we haven't had any sightings lately.  It could be that Sass is lying low in the heat, or she might have moved on to a new neighborhood. 

We've tried to update the map, (,-77.090893&spn=0.068755,0.148315), and we think we would like to focus a flyering effort to the west.  That is, the area roughly bordered by Massachusetts (east), Clara Barton Parkway (west), the Battery Kemble/Wesley Heights Parks (south), Little Falls park (north - or as high as Goldsboro Rd, but that's pretty ambitious).

All those parks offer lots of cover, water and food for a dog on the lam during these hot days. 

If you can spare *any* time, please let us know so we can coordinate efforts by sending us an email to  Let us know if you need materials, if you need to partner with someone who has a car, etc.  Because the area is large, we'd ask you to concentrate on flyering at intersections where the most people would see the signs, rather than hitting every corner. 

We really appreciate all the volunteers who are working so hard to help us bring her home.  I can't tell you how much we miss her - there's a Sassafras sized hole in our world.

Friday, August 5, 2011

Still Waiting for a Sighting

Although we are waiting for a sighting, it isn't as if the phone doesn't ring.  Lately, there have been a lot of calls of the kind we like (if it isn't a sighting or someone who has her safe & sound):  people wishing us well, letting us know they're watching for Sass in their neighborhoods.  Sometimes they let us know how much they're wishing for a happy ending by telling us about dogs they'd hoped were Sassafras.  Last night, Amy let us know about this posting on Petfinder:

She knew it wasn't our Sassafras, but she wanted to call and check in with us.  It's really humbling to know that there are so many people who are so concerned about Sassy.  We love her, miss her and really want to bring her home.

It's a little spooky to see another beagle mix out there with Sassafras' name, but it looks like this girl was adopted and we hope she's happy with her new humans.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

UPDATE: MacArthur Blvd near Palisades library? - A Tweet

From twitter last night....

jekinzerAug 03, 8:56pm via web
@auwebmanager I almost ran over a beagle coming down MacArthur Blvd near Palisades library! I hope it wasn't Sassafras!

From this morning:

 Julie Kinzer 

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

More Sass-looking Dogs on Leash Reported

In the last couple days we've received a number of new calls from well-meaning individuals who saw dogs being walked who looked like Sassafras. We typically can't follow up directly on these, but do ask the callers a number of questions and they always offer to keep a lookout. (We always recommend that the callers simply ask the person if they recently found the dog they are waking. Barring that, we also recommend that callers snap a picture and then re-contact us so they can send us the picture... our cell doesn't accept photos.)

The calls were related to:

Friday early AM (Jul 29) - On 31st NW, east of Tennyson - A person who regularly walks her dog in the area reported seeing a beagle being walked that was not familiar (she had not seen the person nor the dog before). The dog she described sounded a bit bigger than Sassafras.

Tuesday afternoon (Aug 2) - Off Massachusetts near the American University circle - A woman who has been a great resource in getting the word out was driving in her car on her way home and saw a beagle being walked near a building. She thought it could be Sass, but did not see the distinctive tail.

For more on why we think Sass is unlikely to be found on someone else's leash, see this earlier blog post.

Of course, it's possible that one of these was Sass and we encourage people to continue contacting us if they see a dog that matches Sass' description.... We are very ready for her to come home.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Good Karma

I just got a call from Kathy, whose son found a lost beagle last night.  She remembered our flyers and drove until she found one, and then called.  From her description, I didn't think it was our Sassafras, but she agreed to turn around, go back home (instead of going to work!) and take a few cell phone pictures for me.

The dog wasn't Sass, but I did a quick search on Craigslist and found a lost beagle listing that sounded like it could be the dog Kathy found.

I just got an email that owner and dog have been reunited!  I'm so happy for them!

Monday, August 1, 2011

We hope a little luck comes our way, too!

Since Sassafras has been lost we've gotten help from a number of people who are part of what we've come to know as a community of people who have lost dogs themselves or who know/have helped people with lost dogs.  It's an amazing, inspiring group of people.

Recently, both of the mastiffs who are lost in DC have had confirmed sightings and we're thrilled for them (and hoping a little of their luck comes our way and we get a sighting of Sassafras for the hat trick).

We're busy this week regrouping, updating, making plans for what's next - we haven't given up just because the cameras have come down!