Gobi (dog)

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Dion and Gobi at Heavenly Lake, near Urumqi, China.

Gobi is a small, female border terrier mix dog that began following ultra marathon runner Dion Leonard at the beginning of Stage II of the Gobi Desert Run in China in June 2016.[1] Some vets have now told Dion that the dog could be a mix of Shih Tzu, and Chihuahua.[2]

Leonard noticed the stray dog at the start of the second day of the race. He did not expect the dog to follow him. The dog ran a 23 mile leg of the race with him. At the end of the day, the dog joined Leonard in his tent. Ultimately, Gobi ran 77 miles of the 155 mile race.[3] In Stage III, Leonard carried Gobi several times through water barriers. Gobi did not run Stages IV and V of the run, as the race had entered the desert where temperatures exceeded 52°C.[4]

After finishing the race, Leonard began a crowd funding campaign to raise £5,000 to bring Gobi back to Edinburgh from China. The campaign ultimately raised over £38,000. Leonard and his wife Lucja committed to donate the extra funds to welfare organizations that care for stray dogs.[5]

Before Gobi could begin the quarantine process necessary to enter the UK, Leonard left Gobi in the care of race organisers in Urumqi, while he flew back to the UK to arrange for a leave of absence from his job in Edinburgh. While Leonard was in Edinburgh Gobi went missing, so Leonard immediately flew back to Urumqi, a city of three million people, to find her. With a search party made up of volunteers, Leonard combed the city with reward flyers and social media until the dog was found.[6] Gobi had a deep gash on her head and was limping, but was otherwise unharmed. Leonard used some of the crowd funding money to fly Gobi to Beijing for an operation on her hip, from which she recovered. Leonard has now brought Gobi home to Edinburgh after the four month quarantine in Beijing required by UK law for unregistered strays was completed by 1 January 2017.[7]

In October 2016, HarperCollins Publishers announced the expected publication of a trilogy of books about Gobi and Leonard's journey together. The hardcover and paperback adult and Young Readers' books were officially launched in London on 1 June 2017. The book for adults is called Finding Gobi, and is now available in 13 languages; English, Spanish, Dutch, Polish, Korean, Italian, Japanese, German, Finnish, Swedish, Danish, Portuguese and Simplified Chinese. A young children's picture book was also released in 2017. On 13 March 2017, Twentieth Century Fox announced that it is developing a movie based on Dion Leonard and Gobi's extensive journey together. [8]


  1. ^ "Finding Gobi: Runner united with marathon companion dog". The BBC.
  2. ^ "story-of-adorable-dog-who-was-rescued-by-ultra-runner-in-the-desert-and-brought-home-to-britain-will-be-made-into-hollywood-movie".
  3. ^ "Stray dog wins hearts - and new home - after following man through 155-mile ultramarathon". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
  4. ^ "Stray dogs wins hearts - and new home - after following man through 155-mile ultramarathon". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved August 7, 2016.
  5. ^ "Bring Gobi Home". Crowdfunder.
  6. ^ "Gobi: Lost and found". CNN. CNN. Retrieved August 25, 2016.
  7. ^ "Gobi marathon runner returns to Edinburgh with dog". The BBC.
  8. ^ "Dion Leonard's Memoir About Stray Dog to Get Movie Adaptation at Fox (EXCLUSIVE)".