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Press Play with Noami, Dustin & Amara

As we launch our new gear for the Fall 2022 season, we're thinking it's time to take a cue from our dogs and press the play button. Let's let go, let loose, and zoom outside the lines – let's follow our dogs' leads and their spontaneous curiosity and delight in the bliss that is playfulness unleashed.

And, since Noami, Dustin & Amara are some of the funnest, most playful Ruffwear Ambassadors we know, we asked them to share how Amara reminds them to Press Play in a world where it can be easy to get caught up in a cycle of working too much and not playing enough.


Hi! It’s me, Amara. I’m just lying here waiting for my humans to wake up. I’m watching closely for any sign of movement to know they’re awake. Then I’ll climb over and give them each a kiss so they’ll know I’m ready to go outside.

Woman and dog jump and play in a rocky desert.Last night, we arrived at a new campsite and I can’t wait to sniff around and find all the exciting new smells. Besides, I have to go out first and make sure it’s safe for my humans. He just moved! He’s awake! I’m going in!

Amara, a German Shepherd Dog, sitting in front of a camper van in the desert

A message from Dustin, one of Amara’s humans:
Noami and I often wonder what life was like before Amara joined our pack. We were full-time vanlifers for three years before Amara found us on a lonely Texas highway in 2019.

But, to be honest, it’s hard to imagine life without her. As you can see, she’s the first thing we wake up to every morning, and I wouldn’t change that for the world.

Man and dog in inflatable kayak paddling.

Ok, ok! That’s enough, dad. Mom’s up and taking out her mat. Time for some yoga! We've been doing yoga since I was a pup. I always start with zoomies around her mat, then I give her lots of kisses when she sits down. 

She says my downward dog is perfect. But I’m bored now, so I’ll just watch and wait until – shavasana! Yes! That means it’s almost time for our run. Ok, I’ll see y’all later. We're hitting the trail! 

Dog and two humans hiking in desert landscape

Amara’s human:
We’re often asked what it’s like living in a van with two humans and a full-grown German Shepherd. We spend most of our time in remote scenic places where we can open the door as soon as we wake up and, as long as the weather’s nice, leave it open all day. So, you could say Amara has a big backyard to play in.

We’re back and I am tired! It’s time for me to take a nap while mom and dad work. 

Woman and dog taking a break from a run in front of a lake.Amara’s human:
As vanlife digital nomads and remote entrepreneurs, it’s easy to get caught up in a cycle of working too much and not playing enough.

Together, the three of us have developed a work-play schedule that works. Well, it’s pretty much Amara’s schedule. She’s a solar dog – up and down with the sun – and she loves her long mid-day naps. So, we have our windows for work and play, and she makes sure we stick to them. 

Yawn… Stretch… Hey! I’m up! Come on, let’s play! 

Amara’s human:
Amara says it’s time to take a break. She lets me know by pulling my arm away from the computer with her paw. She’s hard to ignore.

If I hope to get any work done this afternoon, I’ll have to help her burn off some energy. A nice game of fetch with a ball or her favorite RuffWear toy should do the trick. 

Dog and two humans sitting outside by their camper van

That was fun. Ok, I guess I’ll let you go back to work. I’ll just sniff around outside and see what I can find. 

I love watching the sun when it gets low in the sky, but that means it’s time to get the humans outside again. Come on, you’ve been working all day. Time to play! 

Amara’s human:
Every evening around the same time, Amara will sit and stare at us with a longing look on her face. That’s our cue: she’s letting us know she’s ready for an evening adventure.

We usually take a long walk so she can get as much play as she needs. Or, if it’s warm and we’re near water, we’ll take her for a swim. She’s a strong swimmer and she loves when we toss her Lunker™ Toy in the water for her to retrieve. 

Amara is a constant reminder of why we chose this lifestyle. Her childlike excitement reminds us to find joy in the little things. Her playful nature reminds us not to take life too seriously, that the real joys are right in front of us (or right outside our door).

Her desire for stimulation keeps us seeking new and exciting adventures. Her need for physical activity keeps us fit – and she’s quick to let us know when we’ve been sitting in front of the computer too long without taking a play break.

 Dog and human looking out their camper van window

Amara teaches us every day what unconditional love is. She chides us when we get angry, makes us laugh when we’re feeling sad, and she’s always there when we need her, without question, without judgment.

We’ve learned to read Amara’s body language and mannerisms to understand what she needs from us. Some are subtle, others are impossible to ignore, and play is definitely a key form of communication between us. 

Sometimes I think she knows us better than we know ourselves. And I don’t think we’re the only dog parents who feel that way. Our dogs may be the wisest beings among us. While we spend our time consumed with chaos and perpetually chasing our tail, they seem to have figured out the secret to a happy life. So we’re taking a cue from Amara and always making time to press the play button. 


Ahh! Today was a good day. Thanks for joining us. I can’t wait to do it again tomorrow.

 Man, woman, and dog sitting in front of their camper van and smiling.

Noami & Dustin are eco-vanlifers, digital nomads and avid outdoorists, exploring the winding roads & backcountry of America with their trusted sidekick, co-pilot and adventure buddy, Amara the German Shepherd. Amara found them on a lonely Texas highway in 2019 and changed their lives forever, now this trio is inseparable.

Dustin & Noami are creators at Irie to Aurora where they share digital nomad resources, eco-vanlife tips, and stories about life on the road with Amara. Noami is also the founder of Diversify Vanlife, a community organization dedicated to creating a safe space for representation of BIPOC and other marginalized groups in the road travel and outdoor communities. Follow them on Instagram @irietoaurora & @diversify.vanlife, and learn more at &