When ultramarathon runner Dion Leonard embarked on a 155-mile trek across China’s Gobi Desert in 2016, he never dreamed that the journey ahead would lead him on a path to a friendship with a tiny dog who would race into the hearts of animal lovers around the globe.
Soon after starting out on Stage Two of the grueling Gobi March, Leonard noticed that a canine, rather than a competitor, was hot on his heels. The little Shih Tzu/Pug/Chihuahua, who had joined the pack of athletes the day before, took every step on the marathon’s route that day with Leonard.
The loneliness of the long distance runner she chose to befriend was lessened over the coming days as the pair of new pals shared water and food while traveling a total of 77 miles together throughout four of the event’s six stages. (Ensuring her safety, Leonard had the pup transported by vehicle to the marathon’s checkpoints at times when the temperature was too dangerous for his new barking buddy.)
Crossing the marathon’s finish line was only a starting point in the runner’s relationship with the dog he dubbed Gobi. Deciding to make Gobi a member of their fur family in Scotland, Leonard and his wife Lucja created a successful Crowdfunding campaign to aid efforts to pay for Gobi’s checkups and a four-month quarantine.
However, before her quarantine began in the Chinese city of Urumqi, Gobi ran away. In the hope of reuniting with his four-legged friend, Leonard flew from Scotland to China to take part in a stress-filled search which ended happily nine days later.
Today little Gobi, who runs alongside her doting Dad over the hills and dales of her adoptive home of Edinburgh, Scotland, is once again on an adventure with her pet parent, traveling on a promotional tour for the new book Finding Gobi: A Little Dog with a Very Big Heart…the true tale of a friendship that goes the distance.
Going the extra mile to help other homeless dogs from Gobi’s homeland of China, Dion Leonard has already made a $10,000 donation to The Little Adoption Shop in Beijing with the excess contributions from the crowdfunding campaign that helped Gobi make the trip from China to her new home in Edinburgh.
Finding Gobi will also help dogs in need start a new chapter in their lives, with The New York Times reporting that a portion of the proceeds from the books, as well as from a future movie that will shine a spotlight on the touching tale, will also go toward the paws cause.
A 272-age tome, Finding Gobi: A Little Dog with A Very Big Heart is now available on Amazon. A young reader’s edition of the true tale will be unleashed on August 29th and a picture book for little dog lovers will become available on August 29th.
Gobi and Dion Leonard, making tracks at home in Scotland:
Gobi and his high-profile pet parent were blown away by their visit to The Windy City:
Gobi and Dion Leonard touring Toronto:
Gobi (who is approximately three years old) celebrated her birthday while in New York City:
Photo Credit: Amazon; Finding Gobi/Instagram