‘I want to give my dog an incredible life’: One man and his VERY adventurous golden retriever travel America in search of big waves, fresh powder and jaw-dropping rockfaces
- Andrew Muse, from Massachusetts, left his ‘conventional’ lifestyle for a life on the road over ten years ago
- He now makes a living filming outdoor adventures with his golden retriever, Kicker
- ‘I’m a firm believer in not owning a dog unless you can give it a really incredible life,’ Andrew said
It’s one thing to dream of life on the road but it’s another to buy a van, quit your job and glue your shoes to your manager’s floor so you can’t change your mind.
That’s what Andrew Muse, 33, did over ten years ago – and he never had to go back for those shoes.
Now he makes a living doing adventure sports and filming them across North America with his six-year-old golden retriever, Kicker.
Andrew Muse makes a living doing adventure sports and filming them across North America with his six-year-old golden retriever, Kicker. They’re pictured here in the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho
‘I’m a firm believer in not owning a dog unless you can give it a really incredible life,’ Andrew said. The picture above was taken in the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho
Andrew and Kicker in Durango, Colorado
Kicker was slung into Andrew’s ski jacket from the moment he could bark and has been skiing, snowboarding, paragliding, kiteboarding, white-water kayaking, speed-flying, ice climbing, foil-boarding and wake-surfing.
When we talked on Zoom, Andrew was parked on a beach in Humboldt County in California in his self-converted van, the Museroamer, with Kicker napping by his feet.
The pair were paragliding, mountain biking and attempting to surf waves so big you need towing in by a jet ski (Kicker watched from the beach for those).
‘I’m a firm believer in not owning a dog unless you can give it a really incredible life,’ Andrew said.
‘He seems to love snowboarding most. He’ll just charge through the snow with me – it’s pretty awesome.’
Is there anything Kicker won’t do? Andrew has taken him surfing but said he’s not great at it: ‘He just jumps off – he’d rather swim!
This dynamic image shows Andrew snowboarding off-piste with Kicker in Tahoe, California
Kicker bounds through the snow in the Sawtooth Mountains in Idaho
Smiles better: A beaming Andrew gives the thumbs up as he carries Kicker through a Tahoe winter wonderland
Kicker is pictured here in Park City as a puppy. His first trip with Andrew was from Utah to Alaska
‘He doesn’t like skateboards either, but other than that he’s pretty easy going.
‘The whole idea for me is just to keep him safe, happy and comfortable and to build trust.
‘I’ll only do something with him that I’m 100 per cent confident I can get both of us through safely.
‘His celebration at the end is always really fun – he will jump around and you can just tell he’s like: “Yeah, dude!”‘
Andrew and Kicker are pictured exploring an icy cave near the coastal city of Valdez, Alaska
Andrew and Kicker in the Utah desert. Andrew shares his adventures socially, via YouTube (33,000 subscribers) and Instagram (109,000 followers)
Are there any downsides to having a dog?
Andrew said: ‘Kicker’s a little smelly – he farts a lot!’
It also restricts where the pair can travel.
‘Some of the best skiing in Utah is in canyons that are not dog friendly, so that’s frustrating,’ he said. ‘But it’s an easy sacrifice for me to just go to places that are dog friendly, because I love my dog more than I love pretty much anything else.’
It’s a ruff life: Andrew and Kicker kiting over sand dunes in Cape Kiwanda, Oregon
Andrew grew up in Massachusetts with his mum and sister, Lindsay. He wanted to live in the mountains and be a heliski guide but also dreamed of being a professional snowboarder, so he moved to Utah.
Realising that he ‘definitely wasn’t the best snowboarder in the world’ he picked up a GoPro, borrowed a Mac with editing software from a friend and started ‘shooting cool photos and videos’.
‘It was before social media influencers were a thing,’ he said. ‘As pieces of content started to do well I realised I might be able to make it work.’
A mesmerising shot of Andrew and Kicker in front of the moon in Moab, Utah
Andrew built his van, the Museroamer, from scratch after realising it would cost $500,000 (£370,000) to buy the one he wanted. This image was taken in the Mexican state of Baja California
He moved out of his rented room and into the garage, bought a 1976 Dynacruiser for $500 and decided to do a six-month trip and film the journey.
‘I’d wake up at six o’clock in the morning without an alarm, excited to work on the project,’ he said.
The truck took two months to turn into a liveable space and he worked as a waiter to fund it.
On his last shift he superglued his shoes to his manager’s office floor to make sure he didn’t go back.
Kicker is pictured here exploring the Wave sandstone rock formation in Arizona
Up, up and away: Andrew flies over Kicker as he kitesurfs on Hood River, Oregon
He said: ‘It was to burn the bridge in theory, and commit to this lifestyle!’
It hasn’t all been an easy ride. In 2015 Andrew lost his first van and his dog Booter in a crash travelling home from his sister Lindsay’s wedding in Santa Barbara.
He decided to drive back to Park City for work the same night and fell asleep at the wheel.
‘I was totally devastated. Booter was my soulmate,’ he said.
‘I was totally financially exhausted. I didn’t have a safety net or family that could swoop in and pick me up.’
But Andrew’s adventures with Booter had been reaching more people than he realised.
‘The community of Park City and the people that had been watching my video series reached out in a far more meaningful way than I could have ever expected,’ he said.
‘I thought I was just creating fun adventure content and living my best life but there were people all around the world that were watching and had apparently been inspired to get out with their kids or take their dogs on more adventures.
Andrew said maintaining relationships is difficult when he’s never in one place for long. He’s pictured here kayaking in Alaska
Andrew said that Kicker isn’t terribly proficient at surfing. The picture on the left shows him with Andrew in Park City, Utah. The picture on the right was also taken in Park City, and shows Andrew with his first dog, Booter, before their first trip
‘I had no idea that it mattered to people. So even though I felt like my life was over, I kept chugging along and eventually things started to come back together.’
One of the firefighters who came to Andrew’s wreckage that night turned out to be a golden retriever breeder who offered Andrew one of his puppies.
A few months later he took Kicker home.
Their first trip together was a six-month road trip from Utah to Alaska, where they spent three months skiing, kiteboarding, surfing and paragliding.
Andrew built his van, the Museroamer, from scratch after realising it would cost $500,000 (£370,000) to buy the one he wanted.
Kicker relaxes in Vail, Colorado. Andrew was united with him via a firefighter who rescued him from a car crash – and who happened to be a dog breeder
Commercial work, such as this appearance in a Zelle Credit advert, helps to fund Andrew’s life on the road
The conversion cost $60,000 (£44,750), twice as much as he thought it would, and took two years instead of three months – but still nothing on the price of a house.
He said the van is ‘the home of my dreams on wheels’.
He continues to share his adventures socially, via YouTube (33,000 subscribers) and Instagram (109,000 followers).
He says the best part of having so many followers is being able to inspire people, although dealing with negative comments on social media is difficult.
‘I feel like I have a pretty cool story and I want to share that story,’ he said.
‘I grew up in a situation where I never thought I was going to be happy. Both my parents had some pretty intense drinking and drug problems and to be able to share the fact that I’ve been able to build a super-exceptional life because of that, or in spite of that, is really important to me.’
Kicker and Andrew are pictured here on a jet ski in Lake Powell, Arizona
Andrew says that the best part of having so many social media followers is being able to inspire people, although dealing with negative comments on social media is difficult, he reveals. He’s pictured here with Kicker on salt flats in Utah
He said he’d love to inspire ‘a kid who is like I was when I was younger to have some hope’, and feel like they ‘can still have an awesome life, even though the cards they’ve been handed don’t necessarily feel like that’.
Andrew said maintaining relationships is difficult when he’s never in one place for long and friendships have been a ‘sacrifice’ he has made along the way.
His ex-girlfriend Ashley quickly ended up working for him and joining him and Kicker on the road, but the pair broke up last year.
‘It’s a great crash course in deciding if you want to be with somebody for the rest of your life!’ he said.
Now Andrew makes a living by producing videos and photos and has worked with Rossignol, GoPro, Travel Channel and Ford. He even starred in a Superbowl advert. He sometimes gives snowboarding lessons and picks up other odd jobs to make extra cash.
He said being financially stable while on the road takes a lot of hard work. There have been weeks where Andrew has spent 40 hours filming and 40 more hours editing all the footage, as well as driving the van from place to place in between shoots.
Andrew said that being financially stable while on the road takes a lot of hard work. There have been weeks where he has spent 40 hours filming and 40 more hours editing all the footage. He’s pictured here with Kicker in the Utah Desert
Andrew said: ‘Life’s really f*****g short. And chances are we only get one shot so you might as well do something that makes you feel alive versus something that feels safe and cosy and that’s going to get you through to retirement.’ He’s pictured here with Kicker in Park City, Utah
He said it can be hard to switch off from work: ‘It’s a fine line between going out just to enjoy myself and feeling like I should be filming because that’s my job.’
The pressure of getting a great shot can take the pleasure out of the sport but getting the perfect footage can also make his day.
To relax he likes to play guitar, as there’s no pressure to film himself.
His advice to others? Do something that makes you want to get up in the morning.
He said: ‘Life’s really f*****g short. And chances are we only get one shot so you might as well do something that makes you feel alive versus something that feels safe and cosy and that’s going to get you through to retirement.
‘You’ll be surprised where it’ll lead you – if I were to look at me now five years ago, I’d be like: “No way did this all work out.”‘
Andrew said his days on the road might be numbered as he is keen to find ‘a sense of home and my own space’ and feels like a ‘perpetual guest’ in the van. He’s pictured above with Kicker in Wyoming
Andrew said his days on the road might be numbered as he is keen to find ‘a sense of home and my own space’ and feels like a ‘perpetual guest’ in the van.
His dreams for a home are equally as big as his current life, picturing ‘ten acres in the mountains where you can walk out the back door and go back skiing’.
But he’s not ready to give it all up just yet.
A few days before he chatted to MailOnline Travel, he said he was sitting on the steps to his van after a surf, eating lunch with Kicker and looking around thinking: ‘Man, I have got it so good.’
Andrew’s Instagram page can be found here, Kicker’s Instagram page here and the Instagram page for the Tiny Home Adventure page is here. YouTube videos about Andrew’s life on the road can be found here and here. You can see videos about Andrew’s home on wheels here and here.
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