Over the President's Day holiday weekend, some friends and I decided to go riding and camping up in the high desert, a place that is fun to ride and filled with gold mines.Countless vertical shafts averaging eight feet across and 100 feet deep litter this vast desert terrain known as the Mojave. The early miners used these mine shafts to mine gold and other precious metals from the numerous mineral veins that zigzag their way back and forth under the desert floor. As the wealth became scarce, so did the desert, and the need to bury or fence these potential hazards. This being my first time to visit the area, I was intrigued. As I rode around early Sunday morning, stopping to look down at a few shafts to admire their depths and think of the people that dug and worked in them, I came across one that wasn't empty. This mine shaft (now named Stain's Mine) was filled to all but six feet with sand, certainly not deep enough to kill anyone. But with a head height of only a foot or two, it looked like certain doom for this very thin, thirsty, and hungry-looking housedog who was residing there. Upon entering the mine to rescue the scared and desperate dog, he became even more frightened and looked like he wanted to bite. So I returned to camp, only a few hundred feet away, with the news. Immediately after telling everyone of my great discovery, the whole group looked at me with a hint of sympathy, and one of them replied that people sometimes find the remains of animals and pets down in the shafts out here. So when I told them with excitement that the dog was in fact alive and seemingly healthy, they all quickly jumped out of their chairs to go rescue a dog.After a few brave minutes, Eric, one of my companions, was able to subdue the dog to complete contentment and even borderline happiness. Once back at camp, we fed him some food and water, and tried to estimate just how long he'd been in that hole and, further, in that incredibly harsh wasteland. After a few minutes, we agreed that someone must have been camping out in the area the weekend before, and had to make the grim decision of returning home without a loved one, turning their weekend into a horrible disaster.David, another friend of mine, recalled that the morning prior to all of this, a family pulled into camp to say that they had been out there a few weeks ago and that they were camped in our spot. They had told some friends of theirs to meet them there again this weekend, so if anyone came looking for them, they would be further down the road. With this in mind, David and I decided to go and ask these people if they'd heard anything about a missing dog the last time that they were out here.When David and I rode up to their camp with first a simple question, and then the unbelievable news, the man immediately threw his obviously expensive rifle in the dirt, and he, his wife, and his daughter made a dash for his truck.Arriving behind us into camp, the man's wife and daughter jumped out of the truck and dove for the dirt to hug and squeeze their missed loved one. They stayed there in a sobbing trance, hugging, loving, and blocking everyone and everything out around them for some time. It was a tear jerking moment, and I think it caught us all off guard. Once our eyes dried, the man began to tell us the story of losing his dog and the countless hours spent searching hopelessly.On December 28th, they arrived to that very same spot to spend four days over the New Year's holiday riding dirt bikes. Instead, they spent those four days riding helmetless on quads, calling and searching mine shafts to no avail. Along with several desperate weekend scouts, the group made the heartbreaking decision to give up. Fifty-one days and fifty-one freezing, snowy nights later, the impossible happened. That family became reunited with their happy, loving dog, "Piston."