A Dog’s Chance: Finding Gobi the Desert Dog

It was the story that warmed everyone’s heart: the Australian runner Leonard who found a lifelong friend in a stray dog who joined him on his 155-mile marathon across China. But now Gobi has gone missing and Leonard is calling on Weibo netizens to help him find back his four-legged friend.


The story of Australian marathon runner Dion Leonard and a stray dog from China made international headlines this summer. The Edinburgh-based marathon runner was unexpectedly joined in his China marathon by a little stray dog who seemed determined to stick with him after hanging around the runners’ camp on the first day of the Gobi March.

The hosting city of the Gobi March was Hami (aka Kumul), in the province Xinjiang, in the far west of China.


The two ran together for a large part of the Gobi March, a 250-kilometre run across mountain and desert, around the Hami region in the eastern part of Xinjiang. The dog even stayed with the runner at night and never left his side.


The runner and the dog turned out to be inseparable, and after the marathon, Leonard was determined to raise the funds to bring the dog he named ‘Gobi’ back home with him. He started a fundraising through Crowdfunder to cover the costs to get the little dog to Scotland, which would be before Christmas when the quarantine process was completed.

But on August 16, Leonard shared an unexpected update on his Bring Gomi Home Facebook page; the little Gobi went missing in Urumqi during a stop in her 4-month quarantine process. Urumqi is the capital city of Xinjiang province, about 600 kilometers (±370 miles) from Hami/Kumul, where the Gobi March started and ended.


The runner immediately decided to take the airplane from Scotland to Urumqi to find his dog, sharing on Facebook: “Finding Gobi 🐕…Needing nothing short of a miracle,on my way to hopefully make it happen.”

Yesterday, Leonard posted: “34hrs on the go with no sleep since I left Edinburgh, flyers out in Urumqi & finding lots of strays but not Gobi yet. ”



By now, the search for Gobi has also been covered by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV on Weibo on August 21st, after which the story was shared by many others, from China News to Global Times.

Although many netizens support Leonard in his search for Gobi, there are also those who wonder how the dog could go missing in the first place. “How could they just ‘lose’ him?”, one netizen wonders.

“I’ve seen this so many times that people trust their friends to look after their dog and then it runs off. You should really only entrust particularly responsible people with it,” another person comments.

“I just hope Gobi’s safe,” other netizens write: “Sweet little Gobi, you will soon be found!”


Meanwhile, on Facebook, Dion Leonard posts: “The search for Gobi continues. It’s hard to know where to look with such a large city and so many people.”


He continues: “We have a small group of volunteers helping and whilst we have had lots of lookalike Gobi sightings we haven’t found the real Gobi yet.”

– By Manya Koetse

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.


About the author: Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, Sino-Japanese relations and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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