Zen On Dirt

Of Scamps and Tucson and Dogs


Our 2016 started off innocuously enough. We left Boulder on New Years, drove through the day, celebrated the warmth of the desert that night.

It’s the time of year where there’s stuff going on pretty much every weekend. Which is awesome. I love this time of year.

We started off with the AZT Jamboree, a fundraiser for the AZT Association. Normally, it’s a shuttle ride on some of the amazing sections of trail south of town, but after a week of moisture, the trail was deemed too wet, so the event was moved to Tucson Mountain Park, starting at a piece of BLM land, Snyder Hill, west of town that Scott and I had been wanting to check out for it’s free camping possibilities.

One could argue that this event was the start of the chain that has led to the slightly crazy dog sitting behind me right now.

Shannon and I split the difference between the 9:30 am start long-course of 35 miles and the 11 am start for the short-course of 25 miles by starting at 10:15 and riding 30 miles.


Aside from the riding and running into good friends all over the place, the highlight was definitely the empanada and espresso aid station put on my Matt Nelson/AZTA.


The BBQ lasted at Snyder until the sun set and the temperature dropped.

A few days later, Alice Drobna of Triple Crown of Bikepacking fame and her partner Ross showed up to ride some Tucson trails. Bend, OR, was too snowy, they wanted sun. We were happy to oblige, starting off by getting Ross stuck in the 4-foot culvert on the way to Robles.


I’m not sure exactly what they thought of our rocky-style trails, given that you have to look hard to find a rock in Bend, but we had a good time showing them around. And introducing them to Seis burritos.


Then my little brother showed up in Tucson for work. The text message conversation went something like:

Me: Can you run 5 miles?

Him: Iffy. I haven’t run more than a mile in a while.

Me: Perfect. You’ll be fine.

We took him to some of the best views in TMP, and then obviously to Seis for dinner. I should make a tee-shirt: My paycheck and hunger go to Seis.


Then we decided to go Scamping. Just one night, out at Gilbert Ray, a campground on the other side of the Tucson Mountains. Just a simple test run to see what we needed to learn more than anything. It was also a good excuse to run Wasson Peak from that side, otherwise a bit too far of a drive from town to justify.


I love that mountain.

We were treated to a spectacular sunset while we wandered the campground looking at other rigs. Our Scamp definitely looked pretty small…but it’s plenty big for us.


We slept so peacefully, we decided to stay out a second night, but without the $20 campground fee. We were, after all, still paying rent. But not having a busy road nearby or a rooster that wakes up at 3am next door was such a treat.


So we towed the Scamp over to Snyder Hill, the BLM land that many people use for boondocking just outside of town where we were a week prior for the Jamboree. This was second event that led to the dog.

We let the Scamp sit and joined Shannon for a long ride. She’s training for the AZT and I’m going to get fit chasing her around. This is my plan.


We got back and immediately spotted a small little dog, tail terribly between it’s legs, hip bones starting to gain prominence, looking absolutely scared shitless of everything and everyone.

I’m a bit of a sucker for dogs. Scott is allergic to dogs. While he went in the Scamp to work, I lured the pup in with pieces of cheese and Fritos. After two hours, she’d eat out of my hand. After three hours, she let me pet her.


She absolutely melted under an ear scratch and settled down onto a yoga mat next to the Scamp when we went to bed.

I could tell Scott was getting nervous at this progression of events.


Home sweet home. Scamp sweet Scamp.

We both hoped that she’d go home during the night to a family that loved her and cared for her, and would maybe give her a little more food so that she wouldn’t be scrounging around a camp-ish ground.

Within two minutes of getting out of the Scamp in the morning, she came running up, jumping like a Mexican jumping bean, so excited to see both Scott and I.

She followed us on a hike up to the top of Snyder Hill and through the campground where we asked around to see if anyone knew anything about her. A camp that had been there the week prior told us that she’d been wandering for a few days, and we were the closest she’d gotten to anyone. We watched her expertly look on the hoods of cars and underneath tables, searching for food.

We stayed at camp till close to dark, she never left our side. Either she liked Fritos and cheese better than her food at home, or she had no where else to go.


‘Surely she has an owner who’s looking for her,’ we postulated. We just had to find them. So we opened the van door, she jumped right in, and home we went. This, I guess, was the final step to the dog.

1.5 weeks later, she’s still sitting behind me. We started by filing Found Pet reports with Pima Animal Care Center and the Humane Society. We posted on Craigslist and the Pima Lost Pets Facebook page. We took her to a vet who couldn’t find a microchip. We waited. The Humane Society wouldn’t take her because she got stressed and nipped at the vet who was trying to vaccinate her. But, they did find a microchip linked to a local rescue. Phone calls and messages went frustratingly unreturned. After multiple phone calls, what we now know is that she was adopted out by a local rescue group a year ago when she was just a 6 month old puppy. A message has been left with the adopter, but as of this moment, 36+ hours later, I haven’t heard anything back.


Post getting rejected by the Humane Society. Please don’t leave me there, please.

This makes me a little bit sad, but I’m still holding onto that little bit of faith that someone out there loves her and misses her, and we’re going to find that person.


But until then, I’ve been having a pretty dang good time running with her and teaching her some basic manner. Walking on a leash is not her strong point, but she’s young, smart, and extremely food motivated. Also very easily overwhelmed and scared of strangers. This dog has gone through some trauma in the past few weeks, and all things considered, I’m proud of how she’s doing.



4 thoughts on “Of Scamps and Tucson and Dogs

  1. 1. Scamping– awesome word.
    2. Dogs are amazing and that one seems no exception. But be careful. Attachment is a powerful feeling.
    3. Hugs!

  2. Please post more about that beautiful pup. Keep her as there’s a reason she came into your life. Good Karma.

  3. doesn’t final step happen when she gets named? – just sayin’ that’s how our doggie adopted us

  4. I feel for Scott. I’m sure he would love to keep the dog, and I’m sure he loves that you love her so much. But it would be hard to have a constant source of allergen, especially in your close quarters of van and scamp. She looks so sweet though. Isn’t it compelling when you break through their layers of fear? A fearful dog who’s found peace with you looks into your eyes with love that knows no limit. Instead of fearing you, they learn to look to you for help and protection when they feel fear. It’s a win-win.

    Except for Scott 😉

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