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, November 28, 2012

Suspending the Active Search

This is an impossible post, but it has to be done.

It is with extreme sadness and tears that we write what has been the reality for a few months, that we're suspending the active search for Sassafras. We simply cannot ask all the great volunteers and supporters to continue the search on our behalf. Your amazing support and time has been truly unbelievable and it is impossible to express our appreciation enough.

We will continue to monitor daily emails from Petharbor that features beagles and related breeds brought to local animal shelters, keep the cell phone minutes active, and think of our beloved Sass.

This week, we moved to a new house a few blocks away, and removed these bells from our front door:

When Sass was originally lost, we left the front gates open and these bells on our door. She had been trained to ring them to go in and out. In hopes that she might someday find her way to our house (5 miles from where the dogwalker lost her), we had kept that gate open and bells up, a daily reminder of our hope. Those doors and that gate no longer belong to us. We'll tell the new owners, but reality also needs to be considered.

As with all the changes in our life that should bring only happiness, there is always a bit of sadness for us not to be sharing it with Sassafras.

We'll continue to keep this blog active for awhile and if a miracle occurs, we'll have the biggest welcome home party we can imagine. (Sass still has that chip!)

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Help Find Riley!

We were contacted last night by Riley's humans:  Please keep your eyes open and, if you can, volunteer on the ground to help find this little girl who was lost yesterday in Rock Creek Park!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Mistaken ID: It's not Olivia!

We got the word on this a few days ago, but before I put it up here, I wanted Laura to have a chance to write about it.

The dog everyone thought was Olivia is not, in fact, Olivia.  Laura's blog post can be found here:

I can't imagine the twist in the pit of Laura's stomach when she heard this.  I can't imagine.  I can't imagine.  I can't imagine... (I can, a little.)

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The photographer (Stephen, of FidoJournalism) who took Salsa's pictures yesterday has a few up on his Facebook page:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

People Who Give Me Hope

We just got a call from someone walking his dog near Beach Drive, who was watching two women trying to get their hands on a beagle without a collar that he thought might be Sass.  He was too far away to see much, but he described the markings, and my hopes were raised a little when things seemed to match . . . but the women confirmed that the dog was a male, and so it couldn't be our Sass.

I am just amazed and humbled by the fact that there are still people with their eyes open, our information in their pockets or their phones, and who are still hoping that they can help bring her back to us -- people who have probably never met us, and who don't want a reward, but who are ready, willing and able to help.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Salsa's Retirement

Salsa, the tracking dog who has confirmed Sass' survival and given us so much hope for her return, is retiring.  This year alone she's helped reunite 101 animals with their owners!

In honor of Salsa and Sam's unique partnership, and all the families they've brought back together, Stephen Bobb of FidoJournalism, is taking pictures today as a gift from some of their grateful clients.  If you would like to contribute so that Sam ends up with a truly wonderful gift, please get in touch with Laura, Olivia's human.  lauracolleton (at) gmail (dot) com.

ETA:  I should add that Stephen took one of my favorite pictures of Sassafras and our daughter.  I love the look on both their faces!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Olivia Found!

One of our volunteers received the following email:

"Olivia has been found and is safe at our vet. Details will be coming soon on our website".
Many of you will remember that Olivia's human, L., has been a huge part of our search - and even set up this blog for us.  Olivia has been lost for almost two years!  It's amazing, wonderful news!

UPDATE:  A little note from L.:

YES!!!!!!!! I'm so excited I can't sit still, and she's not even coming home from the vet today (needs blood tests and stuff that'll have at least a 24-hr. turn around time)! I'm in shock - 15 hours ago, I was with Livvie!!!!!!!!!!!  She was so cute with her head on the center console in Sam's car, just soaking up the love from both of us (and eating chicken nuggets from Chic-fil-A - she's so skinny)! I can't believe it! In two weeks, she'd have been gone 2 years! It's also a new record for Sam, and a wonderful way for poor Salsa to end her tracking (and maybe all) days.  Yay Livvie!!!!!!!!!  I hope you get the same outcome soon - if Livvie can do it, maybe Sass can too! Keep the faith!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Know this lost Chevy Chase dog?

UPDATE (Sept 30) - Received text that owner of this dog has been located. Glad she is going home.

The phone rang this evening... It's been quite a long time. A woman was calling from New York saying that a friend who was watching her house had recently taken in a lost beagle and emails to neighborhood listservs had not come up with anything. So, she called us, which was quite thoughtful. Unfortunately, not Sassafras.

This is the dog:

The woman who found her says she's very sweet, likely 10-12 years old and well taken care of. There were no tags, etc. The dog was found on Stanford St, I believe. The woman who has her is taking care of her and won't give her to the shelter (although did call the shelter to see if anyone has reportedly a lost beagle).

If you know this dog, send us an email and we can send the phone number for the person taking care of her. We sure hope she's reunited.

And, we hope Sassafras finds someone just as terrific and the next phone call brings her home to us.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Never Stop Looking

The other night was the open house at our daughter's preschool.  They've been having a "Getting to Know You" theme this month, and on the wall was a chart of everyone's family.  It listed moms, dads, siblings, pets . . . and for pets our daughter had listed "two dogs."

I can't pinpoint when she added the imaginary dog to our family, but Princess seems firmly fixed in her mind, and she now tells everyone that Sassafras and Princess are both lost.

With things like this creeping into our family story, the sad things multiplying, that remind us that we cannot keep up an active search forever.  We'll never stop hoping, we'll never stop looking, but we have to think about how to stop searching.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Fingers Crossed for Dojah

If you have been following the comments, you know that someone saw the pictures the camera took of another dog and he believes it might be his lost dog Dojah.  We are getting him all the information about where the camera was set up, exactly, and will help in any way we can.

We've reunited dogs and owners before ( and certainly hope Dojah's story has a happy ending.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Not Sass, but Not a Fox (we hope not a lost dog)

This dog has visited the spot a couple of times (the dates/times are stamped on the pictures) and I hope his owner is just off camera and s/he's not lost!

Friday, August 10, 2012

More fox... camera coming down

The fox was back again last night (see below)... It doesn't look like this is one of Sass' spots, so the camera is coming down today or tomorrow.

This site is very near the Walter Reed Forest Glen Annex and a loose beagle was sighted there about 3 weeks ago.  (That's a tiny bit north of where Sass had been scent-confirmed in the past.) We did not have a scent confirmation at this site, but our great volunteer Martha was taking the lead in checking out the site.

It's certainly disappointing, but we've now learned how to use the camera and if a future spot looks good, we have a new tool available for bringing Sass home.

Thursday, August 9, 2012


Here's a good look at the fox who visits, from last night's pictures:

And maybe this as well (or possibly another animal):

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Nocturnal Animals

This looks like a fox to us:

We still may have to make some adjustments, but we are learning!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Camera in place . . .

The camera did take some pictures while Jeff and Martha were setting things up last night, but we didn't get any during the night, so we may have some adjustments to make.  If we can get it to work, then it will be so much easier than having multiple people available to pull an SD card twice a day!


Monday, August 6, 2012

Camera Going Up

Jeff and volunteer Martha are putting up a camera tonight to see what we can see.  It's a very, very, very small chance of seeing Sass on the images, but it does give us a chance to test this new camera that is designed to email images so volunteers don't have to go out and pull them off the camera manually.

Martha has gone above and beyond this summer to make sure that flyers are up in Sass' favorite neighborhoods, and she's tried to ferret out new spots to hang them and new people to talk to in the hope that someone would have seen her.  For that we are extremely grateful.

There is still a Sass-sized hole in our lives.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Is this for real?

Yes, caller, it's for real.  And yes, we are still hoping to bring her home even though it's been "like a year" (473 days, but who's counting?).

I wish I had some news to post, but there have been no new sightings.  No new sightings is not necessarily something to worry about because of the weather here in Washington:  it's very hot, so she's probably only on the move late at night; and we have a pattern of storms in the evening hours so people aren't walking around much.

I appreciate all the notes I've been getting to let me know people are still thinking of her.  I appreciate all the volunteers who are helping keep the flyers up that the caller was calling about.

I hope that everyone understands that we wish we could bring her home, but we can only do what we can do, and one of the things I can't do is stitch my sorrow into my daughter's childhood memories, or, actually, into my memories of my daughter's childhood.

Sam once brought a dog home who had been lost for 20 months; that's her record.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

National Building Museum Photography Display

One of our volunteers sent the following picture (of a photograph) that was recently hanging in the National Building Museum's exhibition Investigating Where We Live.  We are members of the museum, and often take our daughter their (she loves the Building Zone and Lego Architecture), but we never saw this ourselves.

That is one of our very first flyers, posted in the long stretch of 70+ days when we had no sightings of her and didn't know she had found a way to survive.  We posted hundreds of these in the alleys of Adams Morgan, Mt. Pleasant, Cleveland Park, etc., thinking she might be hiding and eating back there somewhere.  

So sad to think she's still out there, just beyond our reach.

On a more positive note, this volunteer and another were scouting a neighborhood in which we hope to put up a feeding station/camera, and they knocked at a house to talk to the owners . . . and one of the owners turned out to be someone who Jeff went to school with in California.  It feels a little like the Universe is trying to give us a break here, and we're so grateful.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Dog Days of Summer

It's hot here (close to 100 degrees) and a cold front is going to come through this afternoon that will bring some thunderstorms (and the temp down to 88 tomorrow).  I picture Sass just lying in the creek, keeping cool.

The other day I wore a dress that I hadn't had out of the closet since last summer, and while I was turned up-side-down drying my hair I saw what could only be a hair from Sassafras on the tile floor, which must have come off the dress.  It's amazing how unsettling something like that can be during an otherwise normal (and we work hard to make them normal) day.  The straw that broke the camel's back suddenly became very real as the dog hair that broke me.  Cue tears.

We've had a camera up for weeks now, that John has been taking care of, but Sass has not appeared.  Another volunteer, Martha, has another spot in mind for a camera/feeding station, if we can get permission.  She's also like to spend some time there cooking good smelling things, and being generally available.  Amazing.  I wrestle with lots of emotions when people do so much for us - there is gratitude, but also guilt that I cannot do these things and that I must not be the good dog owner I think I am if I am not able to make these things happen on my own.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

No News for Us, but Two Dogs Home Safe

Yesterday I took my daughter to the playground.  There were at least a dozen adults there with kids running around . . . and one loose dog.  No one seemed to be paying much attention to the dog, and I asked a few people if they knew who he belonged to - I got shrugs until a little girl told me the dog was lost, and a man had come through the park looking for him "a while ago."  I caught the dog, called the telephone number on the tags, and he was back with his owner about 10 minutes later.

I felt like screaming the tag line from those ads on Metro:  If you see something (a lost dog) say something!

A little bit of insight into humanity, and why it can be so hard for us to believe that when we know Sass has walked down a busy streets we get so few sightings.

The other difficulty is that I had to negotiate this in front of my daughter, who is three.  She knows Sass is lost, and we are looking for her, but she can't quite wrap her head around the fact that we *can't* find her.  We're the adults; we're supposed to be able to make things right.

On a happier note, on Tuesday our babysitter called to say she had to cancel because her dog was lost after someone left a gate open at her house.  She called back last night to say the dog was home, a little worse for wear, but she'll be okay.

So, two dogs back to their owners in two days.  I hope our turn comes.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Rain, More Rain, Outside, in My Head

We've been traveling and busy, and trying to keep up.  The DC area has started a Summer weather pattern of hot, muggy days and late afternoon thuderstorms - there's one pounding outside right now.  There's so many reasons to hate this - hot weather is probably hard on our girl, thunderstorms also hard, and scary, too.  Our posted flyers get ripped down by mother nature, not just grumpy neighbors.

We have had no confirmed sightings, although the phone has rung a few times with some unlikely ones.  They truly are unlikely, or we would follow up.

We had dinner with L. and Sam (the tracker) the other night to catch up, check in, and just sit with people who know our frustration and our sadness.  One of the reasons there have been no blog updates is because of false starts I make writing a post - the entries all seem to repeat what I've written before.

We want our Sassy girl home.  We are trying to bring her home.  Whatever we try never seems like enough because it doesn't seem we are any closer to bringing her home.  We keep trying.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Another Sighting (Update)

Sam (the tracker) spoke with the person who possibly saw Sass, and while it may be her we decided against a track at this point.  I want to stress that this isn't a decision based on costs - it's based on the fact that a track probably wouldn't tell us anything new.  This sighting was in Sass' known territory, and we just had a confirmation of that she was still there.  Salsa needs some rest, too, as they had a successful Olivia track this morning!  Hurrah!

One of our dedicated volunteers will be out in that neighborhood tonight to check to make sure there are flyers in the area, and try to catch the neighbors walking their dogs to let them know our Sass is out and about.

Another Sighting! (We hope!)

A woman believes she saw Sass near Broadbranch & Rittenhouse last night about 5:30 p.m.  She called, "Sassafras!" and the dog turned to look at her.

Sam will be in town to do an Olivia track this morning, so we hope she'll have time to check this one, too.  We need a little more information, so she knows where to put Salsa's nose down.

This is very close to Chevy Chase Village boundaries, where we can not put up flyers, but if anyone has time to get out to the neighborhood today either with flyers or business cards to talk to people, we'd really appreciate it.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Making Improvements to the Feeding Station

L. and I have a plan to go out tonight and make some improvements to the feeding station that is set up for Sassafras - we're adding a little protection for it, and some scent from Jeff and I (torn strips of our sheets - Message to Jeff:  Honey, we need new sheets!)

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Map of Thursday's Track - May 10 (details of May 9 sightings)

Thursday's track is below in orange. (Click on it for fuller view.)  Other colors indicate earlier tracks (the one in yellow being a portion of the most recent prior track, which was in December). As you can see, this area is prime territory for nearly all the previous tracks.

Again, we remind people in this neighborhood to try to get a picture on their cell phone before calling us.  Not only will it give us the first look we've had of our Sassy girl in over a year, but it will record the exact place and time she was spotted. ( L., who is also hoping someone will get a picture of her lost Olivia, calls our girls the Unicorns - we hear and talk about them a lot but we never see them.)

As a bit of an update on the sightings that led to this track, there were two separate calls on May 9. One is described below from an email by the spotter (roughly Jones Bridge and Connecticut). The second was at roughly Delaware and Taylor (you'll see it marked on the map). Both calls describe two beagles being together.
 I was in the North Chevy Chase, Maryland area this afternoon [May 9] at about 2:45 pm or so.  I saw 2 Beagles running around and chasing a deer in the wooded area of housing off Brierly Court. 
I didn't get too close to the dogs to see a collar or identifying marks.  The one that I think was Sassafras was very "mangy" dirty and tired.  It also seemed to steer very clear of people running in the opposite direction, when I did try to get a picture with my iPhone, which I understand from the web site is typical of Sassafras.
There were several people that had stopped and were trying to approach the dogs, fearful that the would get hit, since the local elementary school (NCC right on the corner) was due to let out soon.  I do know that one gentleman called Animal Control and they were on their way to the area where the dogs were spotted.
I know this isn't much information, and the sighting of 2 Beagles is out of character for Sassafras sightings, but you never know what may come of it.
Of note, we've checked the online database at Montgomery County shelter and there do not appear to be any dogs that match the description (via photo or description) there, so we assume that Animal Control was unsuccessful.

Sam's Explanation

I asked Sam to write up an answer about why it is so hard to bring Sass and Olivia home.  This weekend L is coordinating flyering for both dogs, so if you have the time, send an email to!

Here's the expert answer - this is Sam's full time job, and she's closed the case on hundreds (thousands) of animals:

The reason dogs like Sassafras and Olivia (see her blog here), termed in the industry as "wandering dogs", are so difficult to catch is that they do not have a single central location that they use as a den, but instead just rest wherever they are when they get tired.  They develop large circuitous territories that they move around in and are fearful of people so they avoid contact with strangers.  They are similar in description to other types of dogs so the owners are frustrated by many false sightings.  Sassafras, being a social girl with other dogs, apparently also "packs up" with other dogs, beagles in particular and is not recognized as the missing dog because they are being seen together.  Wandering dogs are frequently out for months and sometimes even years because they are extremely resourceful at finding food sources and water sources throughout their territory and move from one to another along their way.  It may be days or even weeks between visits to one particular feeding site so getting ahead of them with food is nearly impossible unless you can find a location where you can leave the food and camera for weeks or months.  This takes patience, dedication, and a lot of community cooperation which is hard to achieve as most people don't want food left near their home for long periods of time because it attracts vermin as well as stray animals.

These dogs are frequently caught by accident when they get into a yard or building that they cannot get out of before an observant human closes a gate or door to trap them inside.  Recently, a lab/bloodhound mix that was out for many months, found himself trapped by a quick thinking person who saw him inside the man's newly constructed home.  He was hiding in the upstairs bedroom when the homeowner came in to show friends the new house.  Because of the posters in the area he recognized the dog immediately and managed to corner him and keep him there until the volunteers were able to get over there and pick him up.

Other dogs continue to exist on their own until they are lured with food to one single location and then trapped with a humane trap of some kind.  The challenge with these dogs is to catch them before they get hit by a car which is always their greatest threat.  The key is to keep the dog's picture/posters in front of the community so that they are aware that the dog is in their neighborhood and will report if they see it.  This is the only way volunteers can monitor their movements in hope of getting ahead of them with a feeding station.

Friday, May 11, 2012

A Way to Help Us: Bike to Work Day is May 18th!

Our wonderful volunteer Jen reminded us that last year, one of our neighbors posted a flyer on her bicycle for Bike to Work Day, and it got a lot of attention, and suggested we should encourage people to do that again.

This year bike to work day is May 18th, which has special meaning for us because it also happens to be our daughter's birthday. So, if you bike to work, please consider helping us to get the word about Sassafras out to new places, put a flyer on your bicycle, and help us bring my daughter's dog home to her!

The poster-sized flyer.

The 8.5 x 11 flyer.

Our girls spent a lot of time together, and we'd like to bring them back together again.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

A Quick Update

We don't have the map of the track, yet, but when we do we will put it up.  For various reasons, neither Jeff nor I were able to go on this track.  Our friend Laura lead the other volunteers on this one, and we are so incredibly grateful to her, Pam, Lisa, Martha, and Deb who also pitched in to get the word out to people in the neighborhood that Sass was spotted nearby.  Also, our thanks to all the volunteers who wanted to help, but couldn't because the timing didn't work out - it's really heartening to know that so many people still care about our little dog.

The short summary is that Sass walked all around what we think of as her favorite neighborhood.  A little extra good news is that a homeowner on the route allowed Sam to set up a feeding station and will check it twice a day for food/pictures.  So grateful, grateful, grateful.

Confirmed Sightings!

There were two sightings yesterday, and Sam and Salsa have confirmed Sassafras' scent!  She's still alive and returning to her favorite parts of Chevy Chase!  More later, the track is happening right now!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Volunteer Update from Rockville

One of our fantastic volunteers spent time in Rockville last night to post flyers and let people know about Sassafras:

just got home from rockville. people were soooooooooo nice. And unlike in DC & Chevy Chase where everyone has heard of Sass, no one knew the story, except for one guy that works at City Paws - he knew of course.a girl's softball game was just ending so i gave business cards to lots of people, both softball coaches took a card and said they'd tell all school coaches and post a flyer on the coaches bulletin board, i flyered cars in the parking lot and then went into the school. handed cards to guys playing basketball, teens playing badminton, ...i then went back outside and found the side of the school where the cafeteria and kitchen was, and easy access to the janitor's area. i put flyers up in the janitor's room, and on their carts, and eventually i did meet one of them, and asked him to spread the word.
Back outside i began driving in concentric circles around the school and flyered wooden utility poles when i found them. talked to a lot of people - a traffic guy writing parking tickets, 2 cops, 3 pizza delivery guys,  people walking their dogs, anyone who said they lived in the neighborhood.  i asked every teenager that i talked to to put the info on their facebook pages. i posted a flyer in Ben & Jerrys, and on several dumpsters. eventually i ran out of daylight, but i kept going until i ran out of flyers.
We cannot say "Thank-you" enough to everyone that puts in so much time and effort to help us bring Sassafras home.  Keep your fingers crossed!

Monday, May 7, 2012

A Possible Sighting, But Not Quite Enough for Us to Follow (Yet!)

A woman just called to say she believes she's seen Sassafras twice in the past three weeks or so in Rockville in the neighborhood around Richard Montgomery High School. She wasn't able to give enough information, yet, for us to follow up with trying a track, but I was able to encourage her to take a cell phone picture if she saw the dog and explain how much this would help us - not only would we get a chance to ID her ourselves, but also we'd have an exact spot to put the tracking dog's nose down.

I shudder to think of Sassafras crossing Rockville Pike (assuming this is her, she'd probably be traveling from Rock Creek Park).

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Olivia Sighting After Six Months!

Sam and Salsa were able to confirm a sighting of Olivia, the mastiff that has been lost for 18 months! Olivia's person, L., has been helping us in our search since the first week Sass was lost - L. Was the one who originally set up this blog! So, you can understand why this news makes us happy. Livvie come home! See L.'s blog for the update!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

An Answer from Prudence

Prudence (aka Emily Yoffe) answered my email asking if she thought the letter writer could possibly be referencing Sassafras.

She tells me that she, unfortunately, has no way of getting in touch with the people who write into the chat, so there is no way to pass on a message.  So, we have to hope that the original letter writer does the right thing, and we (or a family like ours, who is missing a fuzzy member) gets a call very soon.

This, to me, underlines how much our search depends on people in our community.  A child picked up a flyer and brought it to her mother's attention, the mother considered what to do and made an effort to work out her dilemma, Prudence picked the question and answered, someone was kind enough to point me to the chat, volunteers gathered possible email addresses at which to write Prudence, and Prudence wrote back.  None of those people in the chain had to do anything - they gave a little time, exercised a little compassion, and helped get me to a place where I've done what I can.  (Besides firmly crossing my fingers that the phone rings - but that happens every day, all day.)

Things didn't turn out the way I dreamed they would with this - and, believe me, I am always dreaming of happy endings - but I am extremely grateful to all the people who continue to show they care.

EDIT:  A number of people have asked/argued that Prudence must have more information and pressed me to get back in touch with her or allow them to get in touch with her.  Her answer was clear - there is no more information that she can give to us.  Please do not bombard her with messages.  She was kind enough to get back to me, and I appreciate that.  If you read her regularly, then you know she loves dogs, and would be just the kind of person who would help if she could.  Unfortunately, she can't.

More About Dear Prudence

I want to let everyone know that I did write to Dear Prudence/Emily Yoffe with my request that if there was a chance this was Sassafras my plea for information be forwarded to the letter writer.  Even if it wasn't Sassafras, I, of course, still would want this dog reunited with it's original adopting family.

The column, while it runs in the Washington Post, has a national audience, so there is only the very slightest chance it's about Sass.  Do I hope it is about Sassy?  Absolutely.  I would like nothing better than to have our search end with the happiest ending.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Today's Dear Prudence Chat

Someone linked me to the following Q& A from today's Dear Prudence Chat in the Washington Post - when I read something like this, I can't help but wish it's Sassafras, safe somewhere, and that we'll be able to bring her home soon with the community's help.



My neighbor recently adopted a dog with distinctive brown and black markings. Last week my daughter brought home a LOST DOG flyer with a picture of a dog with the exact same distinctive markings. The flyer detailed how much the owners missed their dog. I brought the flyer to my neighbor's attention and told her I believed the dog on the flyer was the dog she adopted. My neighbor curtly told me to mind my own business and snatched the flyer from my hands. Now I'm not sure what to do. I'm 99% certain my neighbor's dog is the lost dog. Should I risk being wrong and ruining my relationship with my neighbor?
You don't have to ruin the relationship with the neighbor. You just have to call the number on the flyer,  give your neighbor's address, and say she recently adopted a dog that looks remarkably like theirs.  You must know what your neighbor's new dog looks like because she's been out and about with it, which means anyone in the neighborhood could have noticed. If the neighbor is contacted by the peopel with the miss dog, then comes to you with accusations, just say you don't want to get in the middle of a dispute she may be having with the owner of the lost dog.
– April 23, 2012 1:10 PM

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

No Miracles

We always hope that after we put in the work, we'll get our miracle.  We have to accept that we might not, every time.

The number of days between her loss and our first confirmed sighting was over 70.  I wish that made it easier to wait, now.

Thank you to everyone who has sent supportive notes - our inbox is full of them, and I am slowing trying to answer you all.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

About 800

About 800 flyers and posters went up today in the neighborhoods where we've gotten most of our positive tracks for Sassafras.

Today's volunteers were wonderful, and their willingness to come out, give up a big part of their day to what is (honestly) pretty tedious work, really helps renew our sense of hope.

Thank-you, thank-you, thank-you.

Renewing the Search Today

Last year, a dog walker lost Sassafras, a 4-year old brown/white/black beagle mix. Many sightings of Sassafras were confirmed in the months after she was lost by a trained search and rescue dog but we have not had a confirmed track since December.  

It has been a very mild winter and today we are very fortunate to have an amazing group of supporters who will be out again today posting flyers in neighborhoods where Sassafras was tracked last year, in particular in Chevy Chase and the American University – Tenley campus area. We hope that we will find out that Sass is still out there, and that we can renew our hope that she will be home soon.

Sassafras has ears that are more erect and smaller than a typical beagle. Her right side is mostly black (with brown and white) while her left side is mostly white (with black in the middle). When lost, she weighed about 20 pounds. She is chipped, but likely no longer has her collar. Pictures are attached.

If you spot her, please try to take a cell phone picture (if available) and call immediately: (202) 664-2301. (Email is  She is very skittish so please do not chase!

More pictures, videos, and documentaries are available online at this this blog. A FAQ provides more details.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Today is a day like any other day . . .

Except, of course, it's not.  One year ago today, Sass was lost.  We're trying our best to make it much like any other day, so we don't give it a power over us it shouldn't have.  We took our daughter to the aquarium, and later we'll take her to the park to play.

We have sent a message out to all the people who have volunteered in the past or indicated they'd like to do so.  If you aren't on our list and would like to volunteer, send us a message at, and we'll let you know the broad outlines of our plan so you can figure out if you're able to help.

As always, we are very grateful for all the time people have put in to bring her home.  We couldn't have managed this past year without you.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

A little more about plans...

After I put up the new poster yesterday a number of people indicated that they were ready to start flyering again - which is wonderful!

However, after a year of doing this, we know that we just can't put the flyers up without some careful planning.  The obvious planning is figuring out how many we'll need, and what materials (tape, staples, etc.) we'll have to supply to volunteers.

The other consideration for us is whether or not we will be able to respond to sightings and other inquiries.  While you might think it is better to just get them up as fast as possible, we really do have to consider if, during the week or so after they go up, we'll be able to answer the phone, drop things (like work) at a moment's notice, and just be generally available.  If we're going to be tied up in meetings at work, for instance, then we just create an impossible, frustrating situation.

Monday, March 26, 2012

New Poster

Sam created a new poster for us, that will print in a larger format.  This one could be laminated and put up at some of the more traveled intersections:

Thursday, March 22, 2012

We Went on Vacation

We've been quiet lately, and much of our silence was because we took a vacation, saw old friends and visited family.  It was the first real one we've taken since Sass was lost and it will be the last one we take for quite a while.

We are quickly coming up on the anniversary of her loss, and I dread turning over the calendar to see the April date.  We're going to plan a flyering day around the anniversary (but not on the anniversary - April 8th happens to be Easter Sunday) in the hope that someone will spot our signs, spot her and let us know.  After that, we honestly don't know what to do.  We know that our lives have changed (new jobs, different childcare arrangements, etc.) so a search over this Spring/Summer will not be like our search last Spring/Summer.

Not knowing is, unfortunately, why we are searching.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

11 Months Today

Sassafras got away from the dogwalker 11 months ago today.

There have been no confirmed sightings since December 11, which is very discouraging.

On the positive side, there are still people keeping an eye out for her and a couple weeks ago a very nice person called us about a beagle she saw in her yard near Sligo Creek:

I called yesterday about seeing an off-leash beagle behind my house. I'm sorry to say it's for sure not Sassafras. I looked up your website last night and studied her markings in case I saw the dog again.
This morning around 7:30 I saw the same dog in the same area. The tail, though turned up like Sassafras', the white was only at the tip. Also, this dog has mostly black marking on the full length of the back and only white on the paws and front of the nose.
As soon as I got a good look at the dog, I double checked your pictures and could tell right away it was not her.

I read your FAQs and will know if I do see, the dos and don'ts. I really felt for you guys and am happy to see such dedication on your part to find her.

I posted a link to your website on a listserve many members of our church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) congregation are on in the Silver Spring/Kensington area. I also re-posted it on the Silver Spring Moms listserve, giving a bit of an update and confirming that the search continues.

All the best in your efforts.

Friday, February 24, 2012

The Mills of God Grind Slowly

While we have been trying to get the camera to work, we've also been trying to advance the conversation with the County and National Parks people, with the help of Congressman Chris Van Hollen's office (see this earlier post).  As always, things get bogged down with the question of jurisdiction - who gets to say whether or not we can put a trap out?

I talked to our contact in the Congressman's office today, and I'm glad to say that things do appear to be moving forward on this.  We aren't there, yet, but people are trying to make it happen.  There are important reasons for trying to get the County & National Parks to cooperate with us rather than just deploying a trap, such as the fact that we won't face huge fines and have a defense against the complaints we'll get (and we will get them - they are as much a part of the regular calls and correspondence we get as all the wonderful people who express their support).

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

New Camera

The new camera arrived, and Jeff has been trying to make it work.  He's gotten it to email a picture once, but not again, and we haven't figured out why.  We're working on it, but it doesn't make for very interesting blog posts.

I had to go to a funeral this week for someone who died way too young, and as I was giving his widow a hug she told me that she knew he was now looking for Sass.  And then I cried.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Unconditional Love

Let your furry friends know how much you love them today!

We wish we could give Sass a scritch and tell her she's our best puppy girl.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Jon Asked, on our Facebook Page . . .

Q:   i am sorry for your lost dog. there are so many dogs that need homes, maybe you should rescue another while you look.

We get asked some form of this question regularly.  Sometimes people even call the Sass phone to ask if we want to adopt a dog they have that they can no longer keep.  It's always difficult for us to thank them for thinking of trusting us to take good care of their pet, but we have to tell them no.

For us, it's not the right time.  I have no doubt that there will be a moment when we are ready to bring home another dog (and it will be from a rescue or a shelter), because I've never imagined our home without one.

It's pretty simple, really.  Even though Sassafras isn't with us, we still feel like we have a dog, and she needs a lot of our attention and our help right now.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Phone, The Phone is Ringing, There's an Animal in Trouble Somewhere

My toddler daughter likes to watch Wonder Pets in the morning while I get us ready for the day.  The theme song is frequently an earworm for me.

I have a complicated emotional relationship with the Sass-phone.  It is very important, and we keep it close to us at all times.  The necessity of that, however, and the length of time we've had to carry it  makes it something of a burden.  There are days when we have to put it away for a short time, and there's guilt when that happens.  Today, for instance, I have a class to teach, and I won't be there if it rings.

I want it to ring so very much - but when it does ring my adrenaline and anxiety soar.  Every call might be the one that reunites us with Sass, but every time it rings, I don't know if it will be the mean crank caller, the angry person who hates the flyers in their neighborhood, the kindhearted soul who wants to wish us well, or someone with a solid lead.

Even when it rings with a possible sighting, we are sometimes unable to get there - our jobs are 30 minutes or more from where she's most often sighted and we can't always leave them at a moment's notice, we've had calls in the middle of the night when one of us is traveling (do we wake up the baby?).  When we have rushed out and do get there, Sass has moved on.

Each and every call we've had, no matter how grateful we are to have gotten it because it has proved she's alive and still out there waiting to be found, still adds a bit of disappointment to our emotional mix, because we haven't found her.

But I keep the phone close, and wait for good news.

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

10 Months

Sass has been on the run for 10 long months.  These anniversaries don't get easier for us.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

A Stand Up Guy

Last night while I was having dinner with my daughter the Sass-phone rang.  The connection wasn't great, and I was trying to keep my daughter from overhearing everything, but I heard a man on the line tell me that he'd hit a beagle with his car.  My defenses went up immediately - when someone says something like that, it is almost certainly another crank call from someone who sees our flyer and the opportunity to inflict pain.

I was wrong.

He told me he'd hit the dog, taken it to a vet, and it had been transferred to animal control.  He gave me the ID number for the dog, and told me that he'd searched craigslist and found the post about Sassafras.  He didn't know if it was her - he'd been racing to the vet - but he wanted us to know, and to be able to check.  He'd called animal control and been told the dog was doing well after surgery.

He obviously cared.

So, my apologies to last night's caller.  I doubted you in those first few moments, but you proved yourself to be a good human being, and I thank you.

Unfortunately, this isn't our Sass, but I hope she makes it home soon.

Monday, February 6, 2012

A Call this Morning

We just got a call from Kathy, who thought she saw our Sassy girl near Candy Cane park, and who still had eyes on her.  She was trying to take a picture to text to me when she met a frantic owner, trying to find her dog.  So, while the dog was not Sass, we are grateful to Kathy for calling, letting us know that the signs are still working and the community is still watching.

You have no idea how much that means to us.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012


The past few days in Washington have been very mild - weather often gets to my nerves and my imagination, so this has kept some of the thoughts in my head quiet.  Every day I imagine all the dangers Sass might be facing, but when the weather gets bad it's worse.

During the terrible Snowpocalypse and Snowmaggedon week we had a couple of years ago, Jeff was in Vienna and I was trapped in the house with an infant and Sassafras.  When our daughter would fall asleep I'd run outside with the baby monitor in my pocket to clear a path and patch so Sass could pee.  Our Sass has always been very energetic and I really worried about having her cooped up for so long, but she sensed the impossibility of getting her to the dog park and was calm the whole week.

Every night, I have to let her go.  That is, I have to somehow make peace with the fact that she has been lost, that she may be lost forever, and there is nothing else I can do.  Because somehow, I have to sleep.  I have to get up the next morning and make the day a good one for my family or we've lost so much more than Sassafras.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Snow's Not So Beautiful This Time

I grew up where snow was rare, so always looked forward to it. Although I have lived in snowy areas for years, I still welcome it whenever it comes... normally. As with many things the past 9 months, things just aren't as beautiful as they could be because Sass is missing. My memories are of Sass loving the snow (see video just uploaded to the Facebook page). I sure hope she is safe.   --Jeff

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

From the Archives (1978 that is)

Well-wisher Donna sent in this find about a beagle that survived a cold winter in Winnipeg in 1978. That weather must have been much worse than we have here in DC, but we still have a tough time thinking about Sass out there. It's reason for hope nonetheless.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Quiet Now, Possible Resource for Next Time - Lost Pet Text

Things have been very quiet of late. Except for one scam phone call and a couple people asking about an update, there is unfortunately not much to report. We are still trying to figure out winter camera/trap possibilities and thank the 10 volunteers involved in that discussion. The county has not responded to our request for clarity on whether we can put up anything along Georgetown Branch trail by the Columbia Country Club (although Congressman Van Hollen's office has been very helpful).

And someone texted in this resource, which may be of help with future sightings: Lost Pet Text an app that sends text messages to folks within a certain phone area...

Sunday, January 8, 2012

9 Months Lost - Some Amazing People

Sassafras got away from the dog walker 9 months ago today. Within the 92,555 page views, 218 blog posts, 311 Facebook friends, 2407 emails, many media stories, and some amazing volunteers and well wishers, there is this recent email that is heartfelt and heartbreaking:
Received: January 3
Subject: well wishes to Sassafras and her people
From: xxx
Probably the last thing you need is to read another email that offers no new information about Sassafras but I just wanted you to know that my five year old daughter and I have thought about Sassafras almost every day since we first saw a poster of her in our E. Bethesda neighborhood in early summer. Today as we walked our own dog to my daughter’s pre-school (where someone placed a sassafras poster on the school bulletin board a few weeks ago) and talked about how cold it was and how Sassafras might be managing, we both started crying and we talked about how frustrating it was that she had come so far, was so much closer to home, but just couldn’t get there…. And then we thought how your family must feel every day. My daughter asked me to write to you (call you actually) and tell you she hopes you’re not feeling too sad because she knows, now that it’s gotten colder, that Sassafras will be home with you soon.    
You are an inspiration to all dog parents and we wait to hear the good news that we know will come. Just wanted you to know that there must be many, like us, who are sending good thoughts and good Karma Sassafas’ way.  If there is anything we can do, we’re ready to help.  
Happy New Year.  
The xxx-xxx family 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Our Congressmember, Chris Van Hollen, Is on the Case

A little before winter break we asked our Congressmember Chris Van Hollen for assistance because we can't get answers from the multiple state and federal agencies involved*, primarily about placing cameras and traps. He's promised to look into it.

* For example, to place a camera or trap in Chevy Chase circle, you need permission from the National Park Service (and they have not responded to our request)... but the local Chevy Chase Village police have offered to help (which is much appreciated). And to do something along the section of the Georgetown Branch trail we need to target (that cuts through Columbia Country Club), we get the runaround from Montgomery County.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Exploring Winter Trap Monitoring - Email us to be added to discussion

Since we decided that we would not place a trap in the cold weather, a number of people have asked us about whether there is a way to overcome the hurdles and encouraged us to do so. We appreciate all the well wishes and encouragement, and are trying to figure this out. We are now seeking individuals to join in an email conversation to discuss this, and then decide whether the technical and human needs can be met. If you'd like to join in that conversation, email us at and we'll start the conversation soon. More details below.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Winter trapping and latest John Kelly column

We've entered sadly into 2012 without Sassafras and are still very thankful for everyone's help and well wishes. Our decision not to trap in the winter has led to a number of calls and emails asking us to reconsider. We'll send a more complete explanation of our decision and the difficulties soon.

John Kelly of the Washington Post has an update today on this topic at the end of his latest column. Three people around the Columbia Country Club saw his December post and contacted us to say they'd be willing to have traps set in their yards (which border the club, but not the particular path where Sass was tracked about 3 weeks ago). Amazing!