When Gobi the puppy joined a crowd of ultramarathon runners on the first morning of a 155 mile footrace in China, Dion Leonard didn't expect she'd stay for long. Other racers thought that she would run off after a while, but there was something about Leonard's bright yellow shoes that attracted her to him. They ran together to the end of the first stage, but it was what she did next that tugged at his heart:
"When she came into camp she followed me straight into my tent, laid down next to me and that was that – a bond had been developed," said Leonard.
Leonard named the fearless pup Gobi after the Gobi March Race. She continued to run with him for 78 miles through the tough Tian Shan mountain range. She showed so much courage and energy, often running ahead and turning to wait for him to catch up. But, as the race progressed, it became more and more difficult for the little dog. Stage 3 of the race was her greatest challenge and she almost didn't continue. Although he lost some time, Leonard turned back to carry Gobi across a wide river and a water sluice gate. By the end of that day, she was weak and limping.
The final two stages of the race passed through the Black Gobi Desert, which were too hot for little Gobi. Race organizers transported her to the finish line, where she waited for Leonard to arrive. When she saw him, the tiny pup rushed forward to finish the race with her pal.
He knew then that she had become family. After the race, Leonard called his wife, "As soon as I got back to the hotel after the race, I rang my wife and said to her 'do you think our cat will mind if I bring Gobi home'?"
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The couple soon realized that it would take up to four months and £5000 to legally transport Gobi from China to their home Edinburgh, Scotland. Leonard pledged to do everything he could to bring Gobi home - even selling part of his whisky collection! He quickly seet up a CrowdFunder campaign for Gobi.
4 Deserts//Omni Cai
Gobi's story was an overnight sensation, in just 24 hours, 406 backers contributed over £12,175. He plans to donate the extra funds to a local animal shelter. Everything is in place and quarantine is expected to start within the next week. For now, it is only a matter of time. Leonard is counting down the days to Christmas, when he can finally be reunited with the new little love of his life.
4 Deserts//Omni Cai