Marathon runner adopts dog but on the way home it disappears

Scottish athlete and marathon runner, Leonard Dion, decided to go on an extraordinary adventure: to participate in an ultramarathon through the Gobi Desert. The race involved running about 155 miles over six days in extreme climate conditions. The temperature in this Chinese desert can drop to -40°F at night and rise to well above 100°F during the day!

On the big day, Leonard found himself on the starting line with 100 other participants. Then he saw a little dog, the same color as the sand of the desert, just next to him. The race began and the dog started running too! It kept going, staying next to Leonard throughout the first 21 miles. As they finished for the day, Leonard had to wonder what kind of dog could stick with him like that, tearing along over such a distance.

The next day, on the second starting line, the dog appeared again. Leonard had no doubt that she'd let up at some point, since the race’s conditions should have been impossible to keep up with. But the adorable stray didn’t even slow down! Leonard was so impressed that he befriended his new running mate. In the camp at night, he decided to name her Gobi, as a homage to the desert. Even the race organizers were so charmed, they adopted her as well.

Gobi continued, running the 24 miles of the third stage with Leonard, though with the intensity of the heat in the final days she had to abandon the race. But the organizers brought her with them, and she waited for Leonard each time at the finish line. On the last day she ran the final few yards with her new friend and they both won the silver medal.

Leonard was delighted with this little ball of fur bounding along next to him, so he and Gobi became inseparable, united by the adventure they were going through together. 

He wanted to bring Gobi back with him to Edinburgh. It was an uphill battle: she needed a series of medical tests and had to be quarantined for a number of months. There were going to be at least four months of procedures and more than $6,500 of bills!

Leonard started fundraising online and, moved by the story, strangers came together to cover the costs. Gobi remained in the Chinese city of Urumqi with one of Leonard’s marathoner friends, with the plan that she would join him in Scotland by Christmas. "It would be a wonderful Christmas present!" Leonard said, already missing his protégé.

After a few weeks in quarantine, however, Gobi disappeared. For days everyone looked for her. Desperate, Leonard flew back to China and launched a search campaign. Posters were put up all over the place. Even local media outlets covered it and put out an alert.

People got involved in the search en masse. But the city, with its three million inhabitants, is a labyrinth. “Realistically, I was dreading having to go back home next week without her.” Leonard got ten calls from people who’d seen similar dogs, but it never turned out to be his Gobi. Disappointment followed hope and Leonard could hardly stand it. One day though, for the umpteenth time now, he went to some people’s apartment who had picked up a stray dog. Not that he was the least bit optimistic at this point.

But then, as he entered the room, his face lit up: "Gobi spotted me as soon as I walked in, and she started running toward me. Literally, she was running up my leg and jumping all over me and squealing with delight.” The little dog barked and cried, licking her beloved master’s face, who was ecstatic to have finally found her.

"It was just mind-blowing to think that we had found her," he said. It was a miracle.

Leonard went home with a big smile and the assurance that he would have Gobi with him for the New Year!

What a story to demonstrate the loyalty of our four-legged friends, once again, and their determination not to lose us. It is often said that dog is man's best friend, and it's not for nothing!

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