There have been celebrity dogs in the past who the public have adored and have touched them in some way with their antics on the silver screen, but the tale of a stray dog that melted the hearts of a team of extreme sports' enthusiasts from Sweden takes some beating. In the place of the canine heroes and heroines of old such as Lassie, The Littlest Hobo and even Santa's Little Helper (from "The Simpsons"), the latest "shaggy dog story" involves a dog that has been named "Arthur" by the members of the team it decided to join on their far from pleasant six-day event across the rainforests of Ecuador.

While the homeless, four-legged friend did not complete the entire race, his perseverance and "doggedness" (sigh!) in accompanying the team through its final bike ride and passage through the jungle, endeared him to the intrepid group of four so much that they have taken Arthur home and given him a new home in Scandinavia.

The story goes that the dog wandered up to them while they prepared for their latest stage, clearly not in the best of health and malnourished. Captain Mikael Lindnord and his team provided their new furry friend with a meatball and thought that would be that, but Arthur had other ideas and clearly decided he was on to a good thing, as he followed them from thereon in their quest to finish the Adventure Racing World Championships.

The event included the disciplines of biking, running and kayaking, and although Arthur did not quite don a helmet and turn the pedals around, he did add swimming to the list as he found his own means of crossing the rivers (although they did eventually allow him in to one of the boats).

They decided, reluctantly at first given their concerns for his safety, to allow him to join them and gave him his name in homage to the legendary "King Arthur".

Although he did slow them down, which was to be expected given that they had trained for the event and he was not in the best of shape, they seemed to recognise that what they were gaining was worth it. It was quite some feat of endurance that he managed to achieve, as the section he covered incorporated a 24- mile jungle hike and 41 miles in the kayak.

As one would expect from such an ordeal, Arthur was able to 'boast' of a number of injuries and marks by the end of the race (including a slightly worrying wound to his back), but the team ensured that he was well looked after in a veterinary hospital to get him back (fully) on his four feet again. They also ensured that he received the necessary shots and could receive his passport.

The story had the ultimate in happy endings (despite the team coming 12th), as Lindnord had grown so attached to him that he decided to adopt Arthur. He was helped by donations from animal lovers across the globe and also by the team's sponsors "Peak Performance" in the cost of transporting his new friend "home".

There was also the little matter of convincing the Jordbruksverket (Swedish Board of Agriculture) to allow him to fly back to Sweden with the team, but after all they had been through that was not going to stop them and they duly travelled back together on the return to Lindnord's homeland. Arthur will first have to adhere to the 120 day quarantine period in Sweden before he can officially join his new family.

Arthur has become an overnight hero in Sweden, despite (as his new owner fully recognises) not being perhaps the most attractive looking of dogs, but that doesn't seem to have deterred Lindnord. He was speaking from the heart when he said "I came to Ecuador to win the World Championship. Instead I got a new friend".