It’s a story we’ve all heard before; the stray dog that followed you home. But for a team of extreme athletes racing in Ecuador, a certain stray dog followed them through the jungle and traveled with them by kayak all the way to the finish line.peak

The Swedish, four-man Peak Performance adventure racing team set out in November to compete in the 430-mile Adventure Racing World Championship. The race course goes through the Andes, knee-hide mud in the Amazonian rainforest and includes kayaking down a river. Participants are only allowed maps and no GPS devices to traverse the course.

But with two stages of the race left, the team took on a fifth member. “It all started with me giving Arthur a meatball when we were eating right before the long trekking,” said team captain Makael Linford. The dog, later named Arthur, looked hungry and injured but continued to follow the team through the rough terrain.

“It was more like, ‘OK, he’s going with us. What should we do?’ We’re like, ‘We need to feed him otherwise he will die,” said Lindnord. The team soon gained a large, international following on Facebook to share the details of traveling with Arthur. As it approached its last leg of the journey, the kayaking portion, it posted this update.

“Mike, Simon, Staffan and Karen put their kayaks down in the water and set off, but Arthur refused to be left and started swimming. This was too heartbreaking for the team and Mikael helped Arthur up in the kayak. This led to standing ovations from everyone on the shore, seeing the five teammates set off.”

The new five-man Team Peak Performance finished twelfth and afterward were faced with the idea of having to leave Arthur behind. Linford, who didn’t have any pets before, set out on the monumental amounts of paperwork and phone calls to have Arthur return home with him. “And I felt like, OK, if Arthur is putting so much energy to us, he deserves that I put this amount of energy on him,” said Linford.

Arthur landed in Sweden just a few weeks ago to a media blitz. He is now in a 120 quarantine holding and will soon be able to go home Linford, his wife and their 1-year-old daughter.