Monthly Archives: December 2017

Story Untold: “Arthur Has Changed Everything for Me”

Story Untold with Mikael Lindnord

Photo credit: Krister Göransson

Few stories are as timeless as a man and his dog. For Mikael Lindnord and his mongrel, Arthur, the story is one for the ages. Few could have predicted the circumstances that would bring them together: a chance encounter during the 2014 Adventure Racing World Championship in the mountainous jungles of Ecuador.

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An extreme endurance athlete from Örnsköldsvik, Sweden, Lindnord and his Peak Performance team had entered the race with an eye on the podium. For the ever-competitive Lindnord, the race represented his team’s chance for a major breakthrough after years of steady improvement.

“I did everything to win [this race]. We had spent all the sponsorship money, all our savings, everything to go to Ecuador,” he says.

Over the course of 700 kilometres, the race would take its contestants through mountains, jungle, marsh, and river — running, cycling, and kayaking nearly nonstop for days on end. Lindnord’s team from Sweden had been preparing for months.

A race of such magnitude is difficult enough to finish without curveballs, but sometimes, fate intervenes. On a designated transition area midway through the race, Lindnord’s team had paused to refuel on food when he spotted something out of the corner of his eye: a stray dog looking at him from across the courtyard.

The first reaction I had is, like, don’t come close to me — because I [could] get all the diseases in the world,” says Lindnord, now the author of Arthur: The Dog who Crossed the Jungle to Find a Home.

Covered in dirt, and with an open sore on its backside, the dog was clearly hurt — and as Lindnord dug into his pouch of cooked food, a pang of guilt hit him.

“I looked at him again, and I thought, no one has ever been nice to this fellow. I took some meatballs and put them in front of him on the ground — two, three meatballs at most, because I was eating.”

With that, he and his team were off on the road again — out of sight, out of mind. It wasn’t until later that night that Lindnord and his team learned they had picked up a follower. In the dark of the night, his headlamp flashed across the figure of a dog — the same dog as before. He had followed them for kilometres — hours of travel — through the jungle.

Even as the way became increasingly difficult — the trail turning to knee-deep mud, and then river crossings — the dog followed, and a bond grew between him and Lindnord. It became clear he was coming along for the journey. So began Arthur’s journey from stray dog in Ecuador to Swedish celebrity.

Arthur finished the race with Team Peak Performance — despite his ill health, and despite the race’s kayak segment. The team missed out on a podium finish, but they had picked up a new member — and caught the world’s attention in the process. In the days after the race, Lindnord called home to his wife: he wanted to bring Arthur back to Sweden.

“He put everything on this golden ticket. He [risked] his life to [follow] us,” says Lindnord.

Now three years later, Arthur still leaves Lindnord with a catch in his throat.

“Arthur has changed everything for me,” he says. “He didn’t give up. He never gave up.”

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Story Untold: “[We] Need Curious People to Ask the Right Questions”

Story Untold with Eric Drozd

Mention the name Eric Drozd in Waterloo Region, and you’re bound to get a reaction. For close to three years, the Mississauga native hosted the Region’s biggest talk radio show on 570 News, drawing callers from across Southwestern Ontario.

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At 28 years old, Drozd stepped into the host’s chair and carved a lane as a measured moderator in a medium of malcontents. Taking over the reins from the longtime popular one-two offering of Gary Doyle and Jeff Allan, Drozd weathered early criticism and became something of a favourite in time. And then, three years into a role many spend a career hoping to land, he did something few would dare.

He walked away and became a police officer.

“I had no idea where [my radio career] was going to go. I just kinda thought, ‘hey, I’m gonna do this,’” says Drozd.

“I’ve always wanted to be a police officer. Broadcasting, I had never thought about until oddly enough, I was working in a job to try to further my goal to become a police officer, and I was driving a car around at night, listening to the radio to try to keep myself awake […] As weird as it sounds, a paranormal show was one of the first reasons I started thinking about broadcasting.”

Fresh off of a criminology and sociology degree from the University of Windsor, Drozd was working as a security guard at the time, trying to plot out the path it would take to become a police officer. He came across Coast to Coast AM — an American late-night radio show exploring all things paranormal, hosted by George Noory.

“I was working two jobs, and all I remember for like three years is not seeing the sun.” – Eric Drozd

“He wouldn’t agree with much of what his guests would say, but he would let them talk,” says Drozd. “And then people would call in, and he would let them make their own decisions. And I really like that.”

After his first attempt at becoming a police officer in Mississauga was cut short — “they basically said go get more life experience,” says Drozd — he sent an application in to Conestoga College’s radio broadcasting program. So began a six-year detour into the fun, frenetic, and fast-paced world of radio.

His first break came after applying to be a board operator at the local news station, 570 News.

“I remember thinking that when I got turned down: ‘what does life experience mean?’” – Eric Drozd

“I got an email from the news director at the time, saying, ‘hey, I know you applied to be a board operator. Do you have a news demo?’ I didn’t, so I ran back into the station and recorded a news demo […] Sure enough, I got a call back,” says Drozd.

Starting as a part-time reporter and occasional evening or weekend anchor, Drozd joined the full-time ranks as morning traffic reporter. In 2014, he took over as the station’s main talk show host, taking over the airwaves from 10am-2pm each weekday.

“Four hours is a long time to do a talk show,” he admits.

The run lasted until April of 2017, when the news broke: Drozd was joining the Waterloo Regional Police Service. By August, he had taken the oath. Drozd may not fill the airwaves anymore, but he insists not much has changed: like his old job, his new one is all about communicating and talking things through with people.

There is a small matter he’ll concede, with a laugh:

“The one thing that’s changed is my social media presence, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.”

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