Runner reunited with canine companion Gobi after dogged attempt to find her
Published 26/08/2016 | 11:01
An ultra-marathon runner has spoken of the emotional moment he was reunited with the stray dog that stuck by his side through a gruelling desert race.
Dion Leonard and the little dog formed an unbreakable bond this summer when the runner was taking part in the Gobi March 4 Deserts race in China.
The animal accompanied Mr Leonard for over half of the week-long 250km endurance race, and he then launched plans to bring his new four-legged friend back to his Edinburgh home.
But the dog, now named Gobi, disappeared in Urumqi, China, as she was being prepared for quarantine.
Mr Leonard started an online appeal to find the dog and travelled back to China to try and track her down - and they were finally reunited earlier this week.
He and his helpers used posters and local TV and media campaigns to raise awareness about the missing dog.
Speaking from China, he told BBC Radio Scotland: "On Tuesday night I received a phone call around 9pm at night saying, 'We've got Gobi, we think it is her, it looks like her in the posters, come round and have a look'.
"Thankfully we went over and as soon as I walked into the lounge she came running across the room and into my arms," he told the Good Morning Scotland programme.
"She was so excited to see me, I knew it was her straight away."
Recounting the time when he first encountered the dog, he said: "We met during a 250km, six-stage, seven-day race across the Gobi desert, hence why she's now known as Gobi.
"She actually joined me for day two, day three and day six, covering half of the race.
"She ran 77 miles during those three stages, she slept with me during the evenings and we just formed this bond that couldn't be broken during the race.
"I knew as soon as the race had finished - and even during it - that I had to make an effort to try and get her back to the UK somehow."
He said that he is looking to move the dog to Beijing and then Heathrow, where she can begin the quarantine process.
"It still will be three or four months before she gets to my home in Edinburgh," he added.