Given up for dead after 7 months missing, Truckee dog reunited with owners
TRUCKEE, Calif. — Covered in trails, trees, dirt and creeks, Tahoe-Truckee terrain is a dog’s paradise, and it’s easy for man’s best friend to find the perfect playground here.
Likewise, Tahoe-Truckee people are dog people, and local pet owners take pride in relaxing at day’s end with every single family member safe and sound, including the furry ones curled up on a dog bed or (sometimes begrudgingly) on the couch.
Sasha is one very loved German shepherd that lives in a home just east of Glenshire with another dog, Bosco, and their pet-parents — Carolyn Magin and her husband Tom Kulczycki.
The couple adopted Sasha from the Humane Society of Truckee-Tahoe on Jan. 18, 2014, when she was about 2 years old — little did they know the story that would unfold just in time for Sasha’s fifth birthday.
‘WE STARTED TO LOSE HOPE’
It was last summer — June 29, 2016, a day after the couple left for vacation — when Sasha went missing from her dog sitter in the Stoney Creek area past Alder Creek Middle School.
Frantic yet hopeful, Magin, Kulczycki, their friends and an entire community of new faces canvassed North Tahoe and Truckee neighborhoods with “lost dog” signs and shared posts through social media.
What they didn’t know was that over the course of the next seven months, Sasha would become a local legend, appearing in different areas, and disappearing again.
“Everyone knew about this darn dog going missing,” Magin said in an interview this week. “It was really hard because we’re on the other side of Glenshire, and she was lost in a completely different area she was unfamiliar with. By the time we would hear of someone seeing her, 45 minutes would have gone by, then it would take a half hour to get there and she would be gone again.”
The couple found themselves hurrying from neighborhood to neighborhood, following up on sightings that had been called in or sent to them online.
However, with the winter season approaching, concerns grew.
“We had responses to Facebook posts soon after she went missing, but less and less through October, and nothing through the holidays,” Magin said. “We would have back-to-back calls from people who thought they’d seen her in Olympic Heights at the same time as a spotting at Ponderosa golf course.
“We started to lose hope — especially with this tough winter, we didn’t think she’d make it through the storms.”
‘I LET THE TEARS GO’
The holidays came and went, and Sasha still hadn’t returned home.
Then, about 2 weeks ago on Jan. 14, Magin and Kulczycki finally got a note about another sighting, this time from a pair of local women — Andrea Schaffer and Nova Lance-Seghi — who were walking their dogs in the park behind the Truckee Donner PUD building off Donner Pass Road.
Three days later, on Jan. 17, nearly 3 years to the day when Sasha was adopted from the humane society, Magin met with Lance-Seghi and Schaffer to learn more about the recent sighting.
Later in the day, as Magin was searching the area, she met up with a TDPUD employee who was walking her dog.
The women were standing and talking when all of a sudden, Magin recalls, the employee exclaimed, “there she is!”
“Unbelievable,” Magin said about her feelings at that moment. “I knelt down and started to call her. ‘Sasha! Come here, baby. Come see mama. Sasha come. Do you remember me?”
Without her medication, Sasha’s eyesight was not as sharp as it should have been, so it took a few steps for her to get closer and realize her mom had found her.
“And then she came forward all excited and kissed me and rolled on her back for a belly rub,” Magin said. “She was so excited to see me. I immediately grabbed her collar and was not letting go.
“Once I got the leash on, I let the tears go.”
‘PROFOUND FEELING OF SUPPORT’
Sasha is now safely home with her family, though her seven months on the road did leave her a bit banged up.
She’d been hit by a car during an attempt to cross Highway 89, an accident Magin said was reported soon after she first went missing. Sasha ran off before witnesses were able to grab her.
“She had no obvious injuries and (the vet) was happy with her weight, though she was skinny near the hips,” Magin said of Sasha’s check-up since returning home. “…She must have been fed or getting some kind of care. There is certainly evidence that she had been living outside — pine sap and stuff in her coat, her coat is dry and rough, a thicker winter coat, and she most definitely had been eating garbage.”
Through the entire ordeal, Magin and Kulczycki say they felt the most profound feeling of support from the community.
“People kept looking, they kept caring,” Magin said. “I’d love to express how appreciative we are of this community … there were just so many people searching, opening their homes to the search group — I cannot express my gratitude enough.”