The miraculous tale of Arthur begins months ago, deep in the Amazon jungles of Ecuador, where a team of Swedish athletes was preparing for another difficult leg of a 430-mile race through mountain and jungle. Dirty and hungry, the extreme athletes in a worldwide competition had just a cracked can of meat — and that’s when they saw him. Arthur.
They offered the pathetic-looking animal, mud-splattered and bleeding, a Swedish meatball. The dog lapped it up. And from that moment on, the dog wouldn’t leave the team’s side. They thought he would disappear back into the jungle. But he didn’t.
“The first rule of adventure racing is that everything can happen, sometimes the most unexpected things,” the team later said. “This is the story of the dog, Arthur, the new teammate of Team Peak Performance.”
Arthur continued on to complete in the remaining miles of the Adventure Racing World Series — an extreme event that calls on its participants to endure difficult natural circumstances while hiking, trekking, biking and kayaking over hundreds of miles — and has since gained a growing degree of celebrity.
When the Swedes sank into mud, so did Arthur. When they slept on concrete, so did Arthur. When they paddled their kayaks, Arthur swam beside. “They started with four team members — but finished with five,” the members of Peak Performance Adventure Racing Team wrote. One added on Facebook: “I came to Ecuador to win the World Championship. Instead, I got a new friend.”
Arthur’s tale resonated from Ecuador to Sweden — though it’s not entirely clear where the dog came from, or how he wound up in the Amazon rainforest. What was clear: He wouldn’t abandon the Swedes. “They tried to send him off a few times, but he always showed up beside the team again as they made their way through trekking,” the team wrote. “In the beginning, it went well, but when it became muddy, he was having problems and the team had to help Arthur through some of the deepest mud.”
The most pivotal moment of Arthur’s race arrived when the team settled their kayaks into the water. Arthur, the team reported, “got very worried and stressed.” He realized the team was about to venture out onto the water. The team didn’t want to leave the dog behind, but didn’t think they had a choice. It was the last leg of the journey. How could they bring a dog on the water?
So the team set out — without Arthur. But then they looked to the side of of the kayaks and saw him. Arthur was swimming alongside them. “This was too heartbreaking for the team, and [team member Mikael Lindnord] helped Arthur up on the Kayak.”
More heartbreaking for Lindnord was the thought of what would happen to the dog once they emerged from the jungle. So he took the dog to the vet, got him checked out and filed paperwork to adopt him. Sweden, like many nations, is not an easy country to send animals to from abroad, so who knew what the answer would be.
“I almost cried in front of my computer, when receiving the decision!” the team posted on their Facebook page. “The team is overwhelmed and happy knowing that [Swedish authorities] approved Micael’s application to bring Arthur to Sweden. A big important piece in the work to get Arthur on the plane is done.”
And when they got off the plane in Sweden, there he was again. Arthur.