Meet the stray dog that competed in a 155 mile race – and won herself a new owner at the finishing line | TeamDogs
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Meet the stray dog that competed in a 155 mile race – and won herself a new owner at the finishing line

Gobi formed an unbreakable bond with an ultra-marathon runner in north-west China

Nia Dalton

Posted 2 months ago

The stray dog who joined an Edinburgh ultra-marathon runner on a 155 mile race is now “living the dream” with her new owner.

Gobi joined 101 runners competing in a race in north-west China – and won herself a new owner at the finishing line.

The pup has now travelled to 12 countries, has three pet passports and has “met everyone from royalty to presidents and movie stars”.

Ultra-marathon runner Dion Leonard, 43, from Edinburgh, embarked on a seven-day race through the Gobi Desert and Tian Shan mountains in China in 2016.

To his surprise, he was joined by a scruffy stray who ran alongside him for an impressive 77 miles.

(Image: Instagram/ @findinggobi)

The loveable pup, who earned the name Gobi, became Dion’s motivation as the pair ran side-by-side to the finish line.

Dion Leonard told TeamDogs: “Running 155 miles through a hot, windy desert is incredibly difficult and during times of struggle.

"I would look down and see Gobi running alongside. Her tongue lolling out of her mouth, and a big smile on her face.

“It definitely made running a lot more fun. We enjoyed the moment together.

“Who knows why Gobi ran half of the race. No one encouraged her to do it, but she seemed to know that she was there for a bigger purpose than herself.”

The pair formed an unbreakable bond as they cross the finish line together, with Dion promising to bring her back to Edinburgh with him.

(Image: Instagram/ @findinggobi)

However, her adoption proved both expensive and challenging, leaving Dion with no alternative but to seek help through a crowdfunding campaign.

He managed to raise £38,280 in just 56 days thanks to the help of dog lovers who came across their remarkable story.

But just before the pair were about to be reunited, Gobi went missing in the Chinese city of Urumqi.

Dion began a two-week search for her and launched a huge social media camping to try and track down little Gobi – and it all paid off.

She was found in a park and jumped into Dion’s arms when they were reunited.

He added: “To find Gobi during the desert race was one thing, but to find her again after she went missing in a city of three million people was an extraordinary moment that was more than meant to be.”

(Image: Instagram/ @findinggobi)

In January 2017, Gobi flew to Edinburgh to be with Dion and his wife Lucja, and has since been living a life of luxury - far from her stray days in the desert.

Dion, who says adopting Gobi has been the “best decision” he has ever made, added: “Gobi has brought a lot of happiness, joy and love into my life.”

“Finding Gobi was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, but her finding me was one of the best.

“Our bond and connection is like nothing else. One act of kindness changed my life forever.”

In 2018, Dion published a book called 'Finding Gobi - The true story of a little dog and an incredible journey’.

The book has been described as “the ultimate story of hope, of resilience and of friendship, proving once again that dogs really are man’s best friend’.”

It has since become a Sunday Times bestseller, and is now available in 21 languages globally.

Since then, he has been updating dog lovers on his travels with Gobi on Instagram, saying “she has come a long way from the stray dog in the Gobi desert. Gobi is loving her new life and living the dream.”

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