Adventure Racing is a form of extreme sport that combines continuous hiking, trekking, mountain biking and kayaking over a successive number of days. The world championships held in Ecuador covered three diverse geographical regions - the Andes, the Pacific and the Amazon rainforest.
While readying for a difficult stretch of the 430-mile Adventure Racing World Championship--which would take them through the rainforests of Ecuador--the team from Peak Performance encountered a stray dog that would change the entire experience for them.
Team member Mikael Lindnord says he was preparing food before the long trek when the friendly but sickly animal approached, so he offered a taste of a Swedish specialty. Mikael told Swedish news site Aftonbladet: "I had just opened a food pack when I saw a scruffy miserable dog in the corner of my eye. I thought he was hungry and gave him a meatball. Then I thought no more of it."
But, in that one moment, Mikael and the lonely terrier-mix street dog they named Arthur, formed a bond that would endure the hardships of the adventure and last forever.
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Arthur was ready to become the newest team member and prove his loyalty to Mikael by trudging through all the hazards and dangers of the tough terrain. The team says they tried to send the dog away at first, fearing that he was too frail to handle the difficult course, but he refused to leave their side.
Mikael added: "At one stage we had to take a break and the dog was totally wrecked. We opened two cans of food and let him eat, because he could find no food at all in the jungle."
When Arthur was tired, the entire team rested with him and when he was cold, Mikael shared his jacket with him.
Before one of the segments of the race - a 36 mile kayak around the coast - organizers warned the team that taking Arthur along posed a risk to his and their safety, reports the Daily Mail. But when they tried to leave without him, Arthur jumped into the water beside them and started desperately paddling.
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Mikael, heartbroken by the site of Arthur struggling in the water, picked him up, put him in the kayak and let him stay for the rest of the journey, which prompted a standing ovation and cheers from spectators watching from the banks. Mikael said the trip was more difficult because Arthur would sometimes jump into the water to try to catch a fish and then sit on his lap soaking wet while he paddled.
The thought of leaving Arthur to return to his former life, unloved on the street, was too much for Mikael to bear — so he set about the process of adopting him and getting the devoted dog back home with him to Sweden, writes the Do-Do.com. For what might have been the first time in his life, Arthur was taken to a vet to get the health check he needed to be approved for the journey.
"He was in really bad shape when we took him in," Mikael told the Daily Mail. "He had big and quite deep bleeding wounds on his back with parasites crawling around inside of them. The vet told me that Arthur probably had sustained those wounds around three to six months ago and has been carrying them ever since."
"We have kept those wounds a little bit secret so nothing would jeopardise his chances of coming home with me. But after his visit to the vet in Quito, everything went really well. The vet gave him medicine and sewed all the wounds together, so he was up and running in no time," Mikael wrote on the team’s Facebook page.
The ordeal to get him back to Sweden was also documented on the team's Facebook page. He applied to the Jordbruksverket (the Swedish Board of Agriculture) and was made to wait to see if his application was successful.
In one post Mikael wrote: "I almost cried in front of the computer, when receiving the decision from Jordbruksverket that he was accepted.
"The team is overwhelmed and happy knowing that Jordbruksverket has approved Mikael’s application to bring Arthur to Sweden. A big important piece in the work to get Arthur on the plane, is done."
Mikael ended by saying: "I came to Ecuador to win the World Championship. Instead, I got a new friend."
After a tense few days, the team arrived at the airport with Arthur and boarded the plane with him back home, where he was quarantined in accordance with Swedish law to assure he was not carrying any transmissible diseases.
"Not only will Arthur have plenty of outdoor space in which to gambol, but he will also have access to a dog dentist," Mikael said. He added that his young daughter Philippa can't wait to welcome him to his new home.
"She was just saying 'doggy, doggy, doggy' and seemed very interested," Mikael added. "I think she was a bit afraid to pat him, but that will work out nicely when he comes to our house. He is a sweet dog."
Photo Credit: Peak Performance