This terrific NPR radio segment is making the viral rounds for good reason. It’s the story of a stray dog in Ecuador who met a team of Swedish adventure athletes, and “grew so attached to the squad that he ran for miles and swam along to keep up with them.”

Sweden’s Peak Performance team was in Ecuador for the Adventure Racing World Championship, in which contenstants hike, kayak, and bike day and night a 430-mile endurance race through the Amazon rainforest.

Along the way, team member Mikael Lindnord befriended a stray dog in the most Swedish way possible: by sharing a meatball with him. The dog did what dogs do when you feed them: he followed Lindnord and his fellow athletes, and “essentially forced his way onto the team.”

Photos of the devoted dog swimming to stay with his new friends led one fan to call the moment “magical.”

The team says that after six days, they “crossed the finish line with 5 members instead of 4 as the 12th top team in the world.”

After some uncertainty, Lindnord managed to work out a way to bring his new best friend back to live with his family in Sweden: He and his teammates opened a Paypal account and mounted a Twitter campaign to raise money to bring Arthur home. They’ve also had him treated for a nasty wound to his back that he had suffered months before they met in him the rainforest.

Dog Follows Athletes Through Mud And Water, And Melts Hearts” [npr.org]