Missing dog search proportions are epic

By Craig Cassidy, The Union Democrat February 05, 2013 01:03 pm

When does a story about a missing dog become “news”?

How about when the owner has launched a search effort not far short of the hunt for Dr. Richard Kimble?

When the story is more about a phenomenon than a lost pet?

Such is the case with Dave Scheller and Rene Clopton, of Tuttletown.

Scheller and his girlfriend, searching for an Australian shepherd named Cash, have gone light years beyond normal lost-pet-search protocol of posting an ad and a few dozen flyers. 

They’ve placed multiple ads in three different newspapers, erected 10 4-by-6-foot posters along Highway 49, knocked on an estimated 400 doors, and posted 2,000 flyers (1,000 more are on order) throughout a five-county area taking in Amador, Calaveras, San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Tuolumne counties.

Scheller, who manages commercial properties, has also taken several days off work, and the two have spent each weekend conducting daylong searches. 

The story has been featured in blogs, and posted about for weeks on Facebook.

“We’re hitting it pretty hard,” Scheller said late last week, out, of course, searching for Cash. “We’re looking for him night and day.”

This supersized saga began Jan. 4.

Clopton, having dropped her children off in San Andreas, returned to her Fraguero Road home that night to find that Cash and her Chihuahua missing.

The smaller dog returned the next morning, but not Cash.

Neighbors told her that he’d been running on Highway 49, stopping traffic. About 6 p.m., the driver of a pickup truck, apparently well meaning, stopped to get him. That’s the last time Cash was seen.

Four witnesses told Clopton and Scheller the person was a blonde woman of medium build traveling in a brown pickup truck with a camper shell. She was with a man and teenager, apparently her son, who was wearing Wranglers and a Levi jacket.

Because the truck was heading north, they figure the driver was from Amador or  Calaveras county.

Nearly a month has ticked by, but the search effort has not waned.

Clopton and Scheller have gone to such lengths because, they said, they consider the dog a family member — not merely a pet.

Cash was a gift from Scheller.

“It was the one-year anniversary of my mom’s death and he asked me what I wanted. I said I want an Australian shepherd puppy,” she explained. “It was love at first sight.”

Clopton and Scheller hope the mystery driver still has their dog.

Several well-wishers have reported possible dog and truck sightings, but, as of Monday afternoon, Cash remained at large.

The two have offered a reward for the dog’s return.  If you’ve seen Cash, or have information that may help Scheller find him, call Scheller at 728-5997.