Well, it looks like miracles do happen after all. Gobi has been found.
The star of one of this summer’s most heartwarming stories, Gobi is a stray dog that kept pace with British runner Dion Leonard through the grueling seven-day, 250-kilometer marathon across the Tian Shan mountain range in northwestern China called the “Gobi Desert March.” Leonard had his sights set on racing to the finish line as fast as he could, until he met Gobi along the way. The dog became his loyal companion, refusing to leave his side during the week-long event.
After completing the race, Leonard couldn’t possibly fathom having to say goodbye to his newfound pal, so he kickstarted plans to bring Gobi to Scotland by Christmas time. Leonard launched an appeal on Crowdfunder to raise the £5,000 needed to cover the medical and quarantine costs in order to “Bring Gobi Home.” That project has already reached its goal and then some, raising £19,710.
However, last Tuesday, Leonard received some heartbreaking news. Gobi had gone missing in Urumqi.
To find his beloved pet, Leonard launched an all-out search. Teams of people searched for Gobi around the clock. The team posted missing posters across the city carrying a £1000 reward and took out advertisements in local papers and on local buses.
Leonard himself even returned to Urumqi last week to look for Gobi non-stop. To help fund the effort, Leonard launched yet another Crowdfunder campaign with a goal of raising £5,000 to “Find Gobi,” that project has raised £9,320. [The funds for the original Crowdfunding campaign were for bringing Gobi to the UK and they would not be available for another month anyway.]
While in China, Leonard worked tirelessly to raise awareness about his desperate search. Articles about finding Gobi were published by media outlets around the world. Most importantly, Gobi became news once again in China, with the stories about the search going viral on WeChat and Weibo. Leonard even did some interviews with Chinese media.
Miraculously, all that hard work has paid off. Late last night, Leonard posted a video on Facebook showing his touching reunion with Gobi. “She’s safe & well, a wee sore leg but over joyed to see Dion as you will see in the video! Sticks to him like glue!” the post reads.
Leonard spoke earlier today with The Washington Post about how exactly he managed to find Gobi:
Then, on Wednesday evening, a Chinese man called: he and his son had seen a small stray dog in a local park while walking his own dog. They had brought her home and thought she could be the one.
Still, after a couple of false alarms, Leonard was skeptical. The man had sent pictures but the lighting wasn’t good.
“Walking into the room, I was already thinking this isn’t going to be Gobi, and I’m a bit down about the last few days,” he told the Washington Post. “I walked into the room, and I didn’t say a word. There were actually about ten people in the room at this stage.”
“Gobi spotted me as soon as I walked in, and she started running towards me. Literally she was running up my leg, and jumping all over me, and squealing with delight.”
It was just mind-blowing to think that we had found her,” he said. “It was a miracle.”
Leonard told the Washington Post that the day he had heard Gobi had gone missing was “pretty close to one of the worst days” of his life, but being reunited with her was one of the best.
We bloody well found her!!! pic.twitter.com/tIw5fEIDIg
— Dion Leonard (@Oh_Yes_Please) August 24, 2016
After that terrifying episode, it seems that everything is back on track. Leonard says that Gobi hasn’t left his side since they were reunited. Gobi is expected to fly home to Scotland in December, sometime before Christmas. In the meantime, Leonard isn’t taking any chances.
— Dion Leonard (@Oh_Yes_Please) August 25, 2016
[UPDATE: 3:20 p.m.] To explain why Leonard needed to open up a separate Crowdfunding campaign to find Gobi.
[UPDATE: 6:00 p.m.] With the story of how Leonard found Gobi again.