By Luke Kenton
When tragedy struck for this adventurer, an adorable puppy helped to mend his heart – and now they travel the world together.
For 10 years, Andrew Muse has been using the open road as his homestead and a converted van as his bedroom – but the striking of a sudden tragedy three years ago threatened to derail his nomadic lifestyle.
Driving during the middle of the night with his travelling companion, Booter, a golden retriever, Andrew fell asleep at the wheel of his van and rear-ended an 18-wheel truck on October 26, 2015.
Miraculously escaping with just a few cuts and bruises, Andrew said he was lucky to be alive, but learning that Booter had died instantly in the impact, the 30-year-old was left ‘not wanting to live’.
He said: “My first reaction was to get Booter out and make sure he was okay.
“But there was nothing anyone could do. He passed away in my arms.
“This was the biggest mistake of my life and I wish more than anything I could go back and do it differently.
“Not only did I lose my house and all of my belongings, but I also lost the thing that mattered most to me in the world: Booter.
“I thought my life was over – I honestly got to the point where I didn’t want to live anymore.”
Incredibly, just days after the accident, viewers of Andrew’s YouTube series, Tiny Home Adventure, managed to raise $25,000 to help the professional content creator get back on his feet.
But for Andrew, no amount of money could fix the guilt or gaping void left in his life following Booter’s passing.
That was until he received a phone call from one of the firefighters who attended the crash, claiming to have a surprise for Andrew.
He said: “I thought life was over, I had worked for 10 years to build this life and it was all gone.
“At the scene of the accident, I bonded with a firefighter called Paul who told me he had dogs and was so sorry for my loss.
“He helped me through the hardest day of my life, so we decided to stay in touch.
“A few weeks later, he reached out to tell me his family breeds golden retrievers and when I was ready, they wanted to give me a puppy.
“I was definitely skeptical – no one could ever replace or live up to the bond Booter and I had – but my life was slowly coming back together, and it seemed too perfect not to.
“I spent hours playing with the puppies to figure out which would be the best fit.
“One stood out from the rest – enter Kicker Dog.”
It didn’t take long for Andrew to realise he’d made the right choice, as within minutes Kicker began bounding outside in the heavy Utah snowfall.
Three years on, the pair have embarked on a series of epic journeys from the Arizonian desert to the snowy mountains of Alaska – snowboarding, paragliding, kiteboarding, and kayaking together along the way.
Claiming Kicker to be the ‘most travelled dog in the world’, Andrew said: “Kicker loves the lifestyle as much as I do.
“He’s happiest when he’s chasing me in the mountains or playing in the water while I kite.
“The way his eyes light up when he sees the first snow of the year and charges through it reminded me so much of Booter.
“He’s so caring and funny – if you’re having a bad day he comes up and just rests his head on your arm.
“When I got a dog, I always said I wanted to be able to give them the best life possible – leaving him at home wouldn’t accomplish that.
“I am happiest when I’m out in the wilderness with him by my side – and so is he.”