Rebecca’s War Dog of the Week: Arthur the Athlete Dog
By Rebecca Frankel Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent NPR’s Bill Chappell reported a story this week that seems befitting of the day following Thanksgiving — though it’s not the story of a MWD or even a dog in combat. But it is one that offers a clear view into the heart of a dog and ...
By Rebecca Frankel
Best Defense Chief Canine Correspondent
NPR’s Bill Chappell reported a story this week that seems befitting of the day following Thanksgiving — though it’s not the story of a MWD or even a dog in combat. But it is one that offers a clear view into the heart of a dog and the iron will goes with it.
While competing in a crazily arduous race in Ecuador, the Peak Performance team from Sweden, originally comprised of four bipeds, ended up with a fifth (and four-legged) member midway through.
According to the team’s website, at one of their stops the team captain, Mikael Lindnord, shared part of his meal, a meatball, with a stray dog. When the team set out again, they did so with a number of other teams and in the large group he didn’t notice that his new friend was following them. “I didn’t understand that Arthur was following us until we were alone and he was still there.”
This is no small feat for the small dog; the course that extended over some 430 miles included hiking and biking at high altitudes, a “darkzone,” and kayaking through cold water. Arthur stayed with them the whole way through.
At one point, Lindnord said that the race organizers told them to leave Arthur behind because it would be unsafe to take him onto the water with them. And so they did, but Arthur wasn’t going to be left behind.
“[W]hen we set off in the kayaks, he started swimming after us. It was too heartbreaking and we felt we couldn’t leave him, so we picked him up. We could hear the people cheer on the shore as we set off.”
And Arthur stayed with them not only through to the end of the race, but the team raised the funds necessary to bring him back to Sweden.
This one dog’s determination to stay with the people who, with the kindness delivered with a single meatball, had earned this dog’s undying devotion reminds me of stories of house dogs during World War I. Many of the men sent to the front in Europe were fighting not too far from their own homes. And their house dogs would sometimes track their masters down, following them to their warzone posts, rather than be left at home without them.