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? Gobi and Dion ?


Image by Dionandlucja (Own work) | CC BY-SA 4.0 | Wikimedia Commons

Gobi Desert Run

In June 2016 ultra marathon runner Dion Leonard was taking part in the Gobi Desert Run, a grueling 155 mile/250km race across the mountains and deserts in China. He had successfully completed the first day of the race and was eagerly setting off at the start of the second day when he noticed a small, cute-looking dog staring at him with pleading eyes.

Focusing on the race and the full day of running ahead of him, Dion ignored the dog and continued on running past. To his surprise, the small dog started running after him.

23 Miles Later

23 miles later at the end of the second day the dog was still running behind Dion. Impressed at her determination, and having formed a bond with the dog, he decided to let her sleep in his tent and named her Gobi. As their bond grew Gobi stuck with Dion and ended up running with him for 77 of the 155 mile race.

At one point the runners had to cross a fast-flowing chest-high river. Dion crossed over when he heard Gobi cowering and whimpering at the other side. Even though the race was still ongoing and the other runners weren’t waiting for him, Dion realised how much he cared for the dog and willingly turned back and re-crossed the river to carry Gobi across. They were now a team.

A promise made

At the completion of the event, UK-based Dion made a promise to Gobi that he would bring her back to Edinburgh with him where they would live happily together. Reluctantly he left her with the race organisers as he flew home. He immediately started a crowd-funding with the aim of raising £5,000 to bring Gobi to him. The campaign went viral and actually ended up raising over £38,000, and Dion promised all of the extra money would go to charities helping stray dogs.

Searching for Gobi in Urumqi

With the money sorted Dion got back in touch with the race organisers, and to his horror discovered that Gobi had escaped. He immediately flew back to a city in China called Urumqi (with a population of 3 million people) to look for her. With the efforts of a volunteer search party, reward flyers and social media, Gobi was thankfully found – albeit with a nasty head injury and limp. When Dion first entered the room where she was being kept, she forgot her injuries and ran up to him, leaping and squealing with happiness.

A promise kept

Gobi was flown to Beijing for an operation, before beginning her 4-month quarantine required by UK law for inbound unregistered strays. This was completed on 1st January 2017, after which she finally made it to Edinburgh where she is living a happy life with Dion. Gobi’s incredible story is being turned into a Hollywood movie!

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