Sometimes animals adopt us. Sometimes they adopt us under extraordinary circumstances.
Extreme marathon runner Dion Leonard traveled to China from his home in Scotland to participate in the 4 Deserts Gobi March 2016, a 6-day 155-mile foot race through China's largest desert. On the first day of the race, Leonard noticed that a little stray dog--who'd been living near the spot where the race commenced—had decided to join in the action. The pup kept up with Leonard all day, through all 22 miles of the first-day stretch. He petted her and gave her some cuddles, and assumed he'd seen the last of her.
As it turned out, the wee dog was more determined than anyone had given her credit for.
"On Day 2, I was at the start line for the race stage and she was standing next to me looking up at me," Leonard told The Dodo. "I thought to myself this little dog isn't going to last very long at my side as we raced off, but she ended up running the whole day and 23 miles distance."
After crossing the finishing line and settling in at camp, the dog still refused to leave Leonard's side. Leonard realized that his new friend wasn't going anywhere. He named her Gobi.
Day 3 saw Gobi by Leonard's side once again. Gobi and Leonard ran another 26 miles together—farther than anyone would have guessed one tiny dog could run. But Gobi clearly realized she'd found the forever human she was meant to be with.
Leonard was starting to realize the same thing.
"For a little dog Gobi certainly has a big heart and some pace to match," said Leonard.
Leonard ran on his own through days 4 and 5, as the weather was too severe for Gobi to run in safety. Kind-hearted onlookers gave Gobi a ride to the day's endpoint so she could greet Leonard when he arrived.
On the last day of the race, Gobi and Leonard ran together once again—crossing the finish line in tandem.
Gobi and Leonard covered more than 75 miles together, and Leonard is now working to make Gobi a permanent part of his life. Getting a dog cleared for entrance to the UK from China is a logistical headache—and requires a 4-month quarantine to boot. But Leonard, having temporarily left Gobi in the care of some trusted Chinese friends, is determined to make it work.
"Gobi picked me to be her pal for life, so I am doing what I can with some great support from around the world to make this happen," says Leonard.
So far, hundreds of donors have already pitched in to help cover the costs. We know that some of the Homer's Heroes reading this incredible story will want to do the same.To support Leonard's efforts to re-unite with Gobi, follow the link above. And share this story with your furiends!