When all you’ve ever known is survival, the smallest act of kindness can change your entire world. In this story, that life-changing gesture was a simple morsel of food offered to a hungry stray dog.
The events that grew from one sympathetic deed made headlines the world over and warmed the hearts of millions.
Three years later, we are still fascinated by the story of Team Peak Performance and a dog named Arthur.
Mikael Lindnord was leading his team of extreme athletes through the grueling challenges of the 2014 Adventure Racing World Championship in Ecuador. On day four, they stopped for a meal just before embarking on a 20 mile trek through the rainforest.
Lindnord popped open a can of Swedish meatballs. As he ate, he noticed a thin, filthy stray dog with a large wound on its back. Overcome with pity, he tossed the dog a bit of food.
The pooch – who would eventually be given the name King Arthur by the four members of Team Peak Performance – refused to leave their sides from that moment on. No matter where they went or what exhausting task they were performing, Arthur endured.
At first they tried to shoo him away, fearing for his safety through the harsh terrain. As they approached a particularly treacherous challenge – a 36 mile kayak race across the coast – Lindnord put his foot down. There was simply no way to bring Arthur along.
But as the team set off into the dark, freezing waters, Arthur splashed in and waded alongside the kayak. Lindnord pulled him to safety and finally accepted that Team Peak Performance had a permanent fifth member. Spectators along the banks broke out in spontaneous applause as Arthur took his rightful place beside his teammates.
All tolled, the devoted dog followed the team through 430 miles of deep mud, mountain passes and just about every kind of physical challenge you can imagine. Lindnord’s crew did not win the championship, but they did learn an incredible lesson about strength of spirit and the enduring power of love.
Arthur suffered several injuries and exhaustion as a result of the six day voyage. A PayPal account set up by Team Peak Performance was flooded with donations from fans around the world offering their support to help bring him back to Sweden.
Acquiring the necessary paperwork to get Arthur home proved to be nearly as challenging as the physical competition, but eventually Lindnord did just that. Arthur was treated for his wounds, and after four months of quarantine, he finally arrived at his new home.
Lindnord says he strolled through the door as if he’d been there a hundred times before. He and Arthur have since hung up their racing shoes in order to focus on family life, but they still enjoy a good hike or a ride in the kayak together!
The talented filmmakers at ESPN created a moving feature about Arthur and Team Peak Performance that aired March 5 during SportsCenter. It’s longer than our usual clips, but an absolute must watch for all dog lovers!
Lindnord has also written a book about his adventures with Arthur. It is set to be released in the US on September 12, 2017.
All Images Are Screen Shots via ESPN/SportsCenter