Listen to the full interview.
Marco Werman: Sometimes we choose dogs. Sometimes they choose us. The latter is true in the case of this next story, and if you are a dog lover, even if you’re not, prepare to have your heart melted. It all began earlier this month on the edge of the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador. A Swedish team of trekkers were competing in the adventure racing world championship -- Adventure Racing test teams of four contestants for up to ten days of nonstop racing in the disciplines of trekking, mountain biking, kayaking and navigation. But the Swedish team ended up with a fifth team member, a scruffy stray yellow dog they named Arthur. Mikael Lindnord is the captain of Team Peak Performance, he’s back in Sweden. Tell us about Arthur and where you first met him.
Mikael Lindnord: It was a transition between biking and trekking into the jungle. I didn’t pay attention. This dog was walking around and I thought it looked like really, really bad, so I felt really sorry for him. So, I gave him a meatball that I was eating myself. That was the first impression. But then when we walked out of this jungle trek, the dog continued to follow us. We checked our backpacks for more food and we find two cans of soft food. We took one bite each and then we gave the rest to Arthur because he was really exhausted.
Werman: So, you started feeding him. It kind of seems at that point he’s not going to go away. You can’t shoo him away anymore.
Lindnord: Exactly, and we were in the middle of the jungle. If we hadn’t fed him, I’m not sure if he would have made it, so we felt like â€œOkay, Arthur you’re with us, so we need to feed you.â€ Actually, the real food we had, we gave to Arthur.
Werman: How did he get the name? Where’s the name come from?
Lindnord: The name comes from the movie â€œKing Arthur,â€ because that’s how the dog Arthur is. He’s calm. When we traveled to a lot of other villages, the other dogs barked, screaming and attacking. But he was just standing in the middle, silent and still.
Werman: Your team did not win the event in Ecuador. In fact, it may even be likely you were slowed down by taking Arthur with you. He got stuck in the mud at one point and you had to really focus your attention on him.
Lindnord: This mud was super sticky, so we were stuck all the time. But there was no disadvantage to having him on the trek. But on the paddling, that was not the case.
Werman: The kayaking, yeah. And what happened when you had the kayak?
Lindnord: We would start paddling 5 or 6 meters and then Arthur just jumped in the water. I remember the staff person said â€œYou can’t bring the dog, it’s too dangerous.â€ We were like â€œOkay, what should we do?â€ You can’t reject a dog that put in so much energy in you. It felt like he was one of the team members and we didn’t want to let him down. So, I took him up into the boat and I remember there were a lot of people on the shore and they were gasping, saying â€œHe’s taking the dog!â€ But at the moment, you’re like â€œOkay, we’re taking this dog and we’re just going to continue paddling.â€ It was not easy because he kept shivering. We were also shivering, of course. But I had my Gore-tex jacket â€” so I put my Gore-tex jacket over him.
Werman: I kind of tipped to the end of the story Mikael -- where is Arthur now?
Lindnord: Arthur is in Sweden. Not really with me yet because he needed to be in quarantine when he came down because he had been a stray dog. He needed time to recover because he had this wound in his back that was really deep and he had worms. It’s not like a dog you take to a competition, â€œLook how nice this dog is.â€ It’s Arthur.
Werman: Yeah, not a show dog but can I just say cutest dog of the year competition.
Lindnord: Yeah, probably.
Werman: Mikael Lindnord, the captain of Team Peak Performance. He’s also now the proud owner of a sweet little mutt named Arthur. We have photos of their adventure in the Amazon and also pictures of Arthur’s journey to his new home in Sweden all at PRI.ORG. Mikael, great to meet you. Thanks a lot.