There is no doubt that dogs are the most loyal little creatures with incredible intuition. This little stray terrier has run across the Gobi Desert to prove her loyalty to the man that she has chosen to love her back. This is Gobi and here is her story.
It was during the Gobi Desert race in 2016 when Australian Dion Leonard noticed a small dog nipping at his yellow gaiters. Leonard, who is based in Edinburgh, Scotland, had seen the dog hanging around camp the night before.
“Once we had begun the stage Gobi seemed to like the bright yellow colour of my gaiters and proceeded to run next to me,” said Leonard, who finished second in his first 4 Deserts race. “When she came into camp she followed me straight into my tent, laid down next to me and that was that – a bond had been developed.”
After crossing the Stage 1 finish line, Gobi came into camp and never left. As the days went by, she quickly became the star of the race, with competitors sharing their carefully rationed food with the little dog and snapping plenty of photos with her. But it was Leonard who she stuck with the most.
“I didn’t [adopt her], Gobi seemed to adopt me!” Leonard said. “The dog was more famous than anyone in the race. She was in everyone’s blogs and emails and was all over the race photos making her the star of the race.”
After she followed Leonard into his tent, she refused to sleep anywhere else and became his newest tentmate – and a protective one at that.
“She was the best dog you could imagine – no barking, no biting, no chewing on things, no rooting through bags or stealing socks,” said Richard Henson, who shared a tent with Leonard and Gobi. “If one of us would get up in the middle of the night for a bathroom break, upon coming back into the tent, Gobi would let out a little growl until she confirmed who you were. If Dion got up, she would follow him and escort him there and back. It was a really special bond between Dion and Gobi.”
Henson and tentmates Allen Kerton and Mike Read noticed that the bond was so strong that they soon began to encourage Leonard to adopt Gobi and bring her to the UK with him.
Gobi the stray dog gets adopted
“As soon as I got back to the hotel after the race, I rang my wife and said to her ‘do you think our cat will mind if I bring Gobi home’?” Leonard said.
Leonard has since started the long and expensive process of bringing Gobi back to the UK. With estimated costs of up to GBP 5,000 and many Gobi March 2016 competitors looking to help, Leonard has set up a crowd funding page at http://www.crowdfunder.co.uk/bring-gobi-home/. For now, Gobi remains in Urumqi and is being cared for by the Gobi March’s local manager, Medina.
4 Deserts Club member Derek Kwik is the Chairman of the SPCA in Hong Kong and is also helping Leonard in his efforts to bring Gobi home.
While dogs have followed competitors on past 4 Deserts races, this was the first time that a dog had been so fast and had completed so many stages.
“There was something about the little dog in the Gobi that captivated everyone,” 4 Deserts founder Mary Gadams said. “At the end of Stage 3 she was limping and actually threw up at the finish line so we took charge and banned her from moving until she rested and was checked out by a doctor. Gobi really became the race’s mascot – she embodied the same fighting spirit as the competitors. She also rarely barked and wasn’t very demanding so we all had to take the time to try and feed her and force her to drink water.”
While Gobi’s energetic spirit touched many of the competitors, she also embodied the race’s sense of team work and the competitors’ willingness to help others in need, especially when her small stature meant she required help herself.
“On Stage 3 I had to carry Gobi across a wide river and then over a water sluice gate that she couldn’t have passed on her own,” Leonard said. “I went on to win this stage but at the time I was actually in third place and had a lot of work to do to catch up to the leaders. It’s fair to say that I didn’t really have the time to fetch and carry her, but I realised then I couldn’t leave her behind.”
Just as he did on Stage 3, Leonard is again doing everything he can to bring Gobi with him. This time, for good.
Want to run with your dog?
Even though little Gobi ran all that way by herself, there are ways to make running with your dog easier and safer. Getting your self a good leash for running will ensure you dog does not get harmed and allow room for you both to move. Read about great running dog breeds and how to train both you and your dog to start running.
Most importantly, be sensitive to how your dog is feeling. When your dog gets older, reduce the amount of running or the length of runs that you take with your dog.
Harnesses are great for running with your dog as there is lots of support and the pressure is taken off your dogs neck. The Best harness for dogs that pull will train your dog to run straight, well and help you both enjoy running together.