John Muir, America’s beloved mountain man, experienced a connection with man’s best friend that went beyond a typical walk in the woods. The experience moved him to draft the tale titled, “Stickeen,” named after the adventure dog himself. Muir described his K9 glacier-trekking companion as a, “…philosopher,” who had learned that, “without hard work and suffering there could be no pleasure worth having”.
Allow us to introduce to you another man and his dog tale that will both inspire you, and cause you to hug your furry pal a little tighter today. Muse’s story is one of adventure, hard work, and suffering complete with the beauty that often follows the storms that life brings our way. Muse takes exploring the great outdoors with one’s dog to the next level. Kiteboarding, ice climbing, snowboarding, canyoneering are just a few adventures Muse has taken on with a dog by his side (or somehow strapped to his body). Beyond being great adventure companions, dogs have a unique way of drawing out a sense of empathy in us that is often more difficult to reach with our two legged friends, as you will see as you read on about this story of a guy and his dog.
A Guy, His Dog, and the Wide Open Road
It all started with a sweet Golden Retriever puppy named Booter. Andrew Muse, an outdoors enthusiast, was looking for a special dog to share his passion for the outdoors with. Once he found Booter as a tiny puppy, the two became inseparable. Shortly there after, Muse had a vision to develop a show where he would live out of his truck camper with Booter while the two of them explored the most beautiful places in the West. The project grew into a short series called Tiny Home Adventure. The bond of trust that these two shared is evident as you watch them navigate a slot canyon together in Episode 11– Booter in a climbing harness, Muse carefully guiding him down, both acting is if it were the most natural thing in the world to be doing together.
In October of 2015, Muse and Booter found themselves on the side of the highway after a collision with a semi-truck. Muse was uninjured, but Booter didn’t end up making it despite rescue workers’, and Muse’s, best efforts. While reliving the memory, Muse expressed:
At the scene of the accident, the paramedics were trying to console me by making small talk about climbing and what I was doing. I just wanted to be left alone to cry my guts out and die. One firefighter walked up and just quietly said, ‘I get it man, I have dogs and I am so sorry.’
Muse was devastated. After putting all of his savings into his Tiny Home Adventure, losing that, and then losing Booter, he found himself destitute and in need of some external help. Then a miracle happened. Through a crowdfunding website, he was able to earn almost $25,000 in just two weeks! Muse recounts:
Honestly, I was completely shocked that the crowdfunding raised $25,000. I had always donated to these kind of things and wondered if I was ever in a place of need if anyone would even care. I never imagined this kind of response. Having people reach out from all over the world and tell me how Booter and I inspired them to live happier, healthier, more adventurous lives was basically the motivation I needed to not lay down and give up. I have no idea where I would be without the amazing community of people that cared for Booter and I.
The rebuilding process is not easy, especially when part of that is learning to cope with the loss of one’s best friend. The guilt, the sorrow, and the empty void that was left behind created a force to reckon with. “I probably would not have gotten a dog as soon as I did. Even though I had said to myself I want a dog in my life, for the rest of my life, before the accident,” Muse recounts, but the firefighter who had consoled him at the time of the accident had a timely opportunity to share with Muse. As he tells the story:
Paul, the firefighter, was the only person on scene that I connected with and he really helped me through the first part of the accident. I got his info because I wanted to send him a link to season one of the Tiny Home Adventure so he could see just how powerful and special Booter and my bond was. After a few weeks of staying in touch he called me one day and told me the sad story about how he tragically lost his first dog. He shared the fact that he and his family now breed goldens and golden doodles, and that if I was ready they had a litter of puppies that I could have pick of the litter from.
Just like that, in walks Kicker, a playful pup who is ready to pick up where Booter left off. For Muse, it required some adjusting, but it seems that these two were meant to find one another.
It was originally really hard having Kicker around, actually. I knew I couldn’t hold him to the same standards as Booter, but all I wanted was Booter back. I was also nervous he wouldn’t be able to hang in the same adventure situations that Booter and I were always getting into. Turns out, Kicker is totally a badass as well and I love him deeply. The similarities between the two are incredible. They are also very different dogs, but I see so much of Booter in Kicker.
So the Adventures Begin Again
Kicker is quickly growing into the big shoes left behind by Booter. From kiteboarding to canyoneering, Kicker is diving into the adventure life with his adventurous companion leading the way. Muse reports:
Kicker stepped into the adventure life with full confidence. We are still building the skill set that Booter and I had where he knew EXACTLY what I needed from him and vise versa, but I know we will get there with time. Kicker is only a year and a half old so we both still have some learning to do.
During the time of our interview with Muse, he was planning a winter camping trip for him and Kicker, complete with backcountry snowboarding into a slot canyon and ice climbing back up. It appears that life is getting back to normal for Muse and his adventure pup.
The Lessons That Only Dogs Can Teach Us
Overcoming tragedy and loss is never easy, but the wisdom and richness of life that follows allows us to trudge on ahead with confidence and a renewed zest for life. In Muir’s account of Stickeen, he expresses this idea of facing death, battling for life, and the understanding of what man’s best friend is capable of. Muir wrote:
I have known many dogs, and many a story I could tell of their wisdom and devotion; but to none do I owe so much as to Stickeen. (…) Our storm-battle for life brought him to light, and through him as through a window I have ever since been looking with deeper sympathy into all my fellow mortals.
When asked to share his favorite memory of Kicker, Muse shared the story of Kicker embarrassing him in front of a group of women in a high end active wear store:
Lululemon helped get clothes on my back after everything was lost in the truck camper. Once I got Kicker, they asked that I bring him in ASAP, so I did. First thing he does is take a massive dump right on the showroom floor in front of a bunch of hot chicks. Of course, I cleaned it up and they said to just flush in down the toilet. He CLOGGED the toilet! I was super embarrassed!
Kicker may have a few more years ahead of him before he exudes the philosopher’s spirit of Stickeen, but he certainly is carrying the torch of adventure, fearlessness, and fun that Booter graciously passed on to him. The future is wide open for these two kindred spirits.
Thinking about taking your dog on some real adventures? Here are some words of advice from Muse:
I wouldn’t ever take my dog into a situation that I wasn’t sure I could safely get him out of.
Snowboarding is probably my favorite activity to do with my dogs, mainly because we both LOVE it. Biggest thing is your snowboard edge can very badly injure a dog. So you need to be very careful.
It’s important to get your dog out into situations where they can be a dog. Run around, smell things, dig holes, find sticks, roll around, etc. Camping and backpacking are probably the best thing you can do with your dog.
Biggest thing is keeping them safe so they trust you without question.
Traveling with a pup isn’t the easiest thing. National Parks have very limited access for dogs. My advice is to find the trail less traveled. Find places where there won’t be thousands of people and paved walkways.
When you find yourself on that path less traveled with your pup, make sure to take lots of photos.