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Thursday, December 11, 2014 (read 685 times)

A Man and his Dog

by Sara

"I came to Ecuador to win the World Championship. Instead, I got a new friend."

Adventure Race Championships in Ecuador

Those are the words of one of the team members of the Swedish Peak Performance Adventure Race team competing in the AR World Championships in Ecuador in November earlier this year. The Swedish team went there with one mission—to win the brutally tough and difficult race consisting of a series of disciplines such as kayaking, trekking and biking. These disciplines are accomplished one by one continuously for the number of days it takes the competitors to reach the finish line. This competition, however, would take a different and surprising turn for the Swedish team, a turn which made them revaluate their journey to Ecuador.

The Dog Arthur

It all started in a mountain village in the Andes. The Swedish team of four had sat down to have some lunch and take a break to gather their strength before taking on one of the last stages of the competition that involved trekking. That's when an ugly, foul-smelling and bleeding dog showed up and started showing interest in the Swedes. The team felt sorry for the scruffy dog that seemed to be a mistreated and a stray. They gave him a meatball and then continued on their way with some other teams for the trekking part of the competition. It wasn't until they had split up from the other teams that they realized the dog was still following them. They tried to get rid of him a couple of times, but he insisted on following them; even when they were thigh-deep in mud and were struggling to get through, he struggled alongside them.

The Swedish team members appreciated the dog's perseverance and company, but they all knew they would have to go their separate ways when they arrived at the final test—kayaking. The dog however, thought differently. When the team members had said their goodbyes to him and jumped in their kayaks he jumped in the rapids after them and tried to keep up. At that moment, team leader, Mikael Lindnord, couldn't ignore the brave dog and turned back and pulled him up in his kayak. There, the dog sat during the entire trip, except for a few times when he jumped in the water to hunt for fish. At this point, the Swedish team had given up any thoughts on winning the race (not due to the dog, though) but they continued on as quickly as they could, all five of them, to finish as high up in the ranking as possible. 

After completing the race in 12th place and doing better than their ranking of 15th,  both team members and dog were exhausted. As a final gentle gesture towards the dog, which they had now named Arthur after the brave and legendary English King, they decided to take him to the vet since he had some old wounds that didn't seem to be healing well. At the same time, a thought started to grow in Mikael Lindnord's head and he contacted his family for approval—he wanted to adopt Arthur and take him back with him to Sweden.

Mikael opened an account to collect money to pay for all the expenses that he would need to pay to take Arthur to Sweden. Within 24 hours, he had gathered all the necessary funds thanks to people from all over the world and the team's main sponsor, Peak Performance. When Arthur was planning to go to Sweden, the Swedish Board of Agriculture denied him entry into Sweden due to his supposedly bad shape. But thanks to his "connections" (he got some diplomatic help from the Ecuadorian Social Minister), Arthur was finally allowed to travel to Sweden after getting a check-up and approval from a local vet. Today, Arthur is in a mandatory quarantine for 120 days before being allowed to settle into his new home in northern Sweden.

However, the Disney-like story doesn't end here. The story of the dog who followed an adventure race team through difficult terrain for days has made headlines all over the world, and Arthur is now a very famous dog, catching the interest and love of people all over. Mikael and his family have been contacted every day by newspapers and TV, but also some Hollywood movie producers have contacted him about their ideas for a future project. Then there are also book publishers and soft toy manufacturers keeping the family's phone ringing all day. 

Since Arthur arrived in Sweden, Mikael has also received four e-mails from people claiming Arthur is theirs. One in particular has been very persistent. A man from the mountain village of Quinindé in Ecuador claims that Arthur's real name is Barbuncho (beardy in English) and has been taken care of by him for eight years. The man claims to be sad about having lost the dog but doesn't want him back, instead he wants compensation so that he can get himself a new dog. This creates another side of story. Who is one to believe? Was it the right thing to do by the Swedish team or not?

Well, from what is possible to find out by researching the internet, reading articles and forums, most people seem to think the Swedes made the right choice. Mikael is certain he did so, since Arthur came to the team with horrible and infected flesh wounds on his back. The vet suspected by the look of these that he had been severely beaten and there are unpublished pictures of these wounds that prove what bad shape Arthur was in. Because of this, Mikael thinks it is weird that someone would claim a dog that was in such as bad condition. The whole thing has also caused a rage among Ecuadorians who want the supposed owner to be charged with animal cruelty. This eruption of sentiment has worried Mikael that the situation might lead to the man getting hurt and he is working to calm the situation on the team's Facebook page.

This new information about Arthur is not of concern to the Swedish team. When they first encountered Arthur, the thought of him having an owner never crossed their mind. He had clearly been severely mistreated and made a choice of his own to follow the team. There were several opportunities for him to leave, but he refused to go away. He had clearly made the choice that he wanted something better—if dogs can clearly make a choice. Now, Mikael is focusing on the good things this story has brought with it.

Since Mikael has returned to Sweden, the team, with the help of their sponsor, has created the Arthur Foundation which will go to help strays all across Ecuador by helping aid the passage of a new animal cruelty law that is attempting to be passed in Ecuador which would make it illegal to hurt animals. People, both Ecuadorians and others, are upset about the mistreatment of animals, and this story also makes us think about all the stray dogs and cats in Ecuador and other countries around the world. Maybe we should consider adopting a dog or a cat instead of buying one from a breeder or a pet store.  

The story about Arthur is a remarkable story about friendship that has touched people all over the world, and will probably continue to do so. It is such an unusual story that it is sometimes hard to believe--a stray dog choosing its own destiny! All of us who have followed the story about Arthur are now waiting with excitement for the days in quarantine to go by fast so that we can start following Arthur in his new home, healthy and satisfied with life. 

Keywords: ecuador,famous dogs,adventure race,arthur foundation,dog arthur

Posted In: Culture, News


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