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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.

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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.


UPDATE 24.08.2016: GOBI HAS BEEN FOUND!!!

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.

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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.

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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.

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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. ”

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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!”

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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.”

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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.

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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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China Insight

Pet Hotels are Booming Business in Beijing

Chinese pet lovers are willing to pay up to 900 RMB (±136$) per night to give their pet a comfortable stay at one of Beijing’s ‘pet hotels’ (宠物酒店).

Qing Yan

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The success of luxurious pet lodging in Beijing has become especially apparent over the past October holiday. Chinese animal lovers are willing to pay up to 900 RMB (±136$) per night to give their pet the time of their lives while they are out of town.

For loving pet owners, before heading out on a holiday, finding a trustworthy pet lodge is often just as important as finding a comfortable hotel for themselves. And nowadays, both should be booked as early as possible during a holiday season.

In Beijing, the booming business of pet lodging was especially noticeable during the Golden Week holiday. Various Chinese media reported that pet hotels in Beijing have become so popular that they were already fully booked a month before the holiday started.

This is also what Zhang Wen, a local pet lodge owner, told Beijing Youth Daily (@北京青年报). He and his colleagues are specialized in tending to every possible need of Beijing’s household pets while their families are taking a holiday.

Some pet hotels now charge as high as 900 RMB (±136$) per day to lodge a pet. The pet lodging business is quickly expanding across Beijing. Some local residents now also improvise lodging facilities in their private homes, asking approximately 30-50 RMB (±5-8$) per day.

With a growing demand for comfortable lodges for family pets, Beijing’s ‘pet hotels’ are increasingly competitive. Some offer private rooms for dogs and assign a member of staff for every pet to look after its diet, sanitation, cleaning, and exercise.

Some pet hotels are even equipped with sporting, beauty, bathing, and water purification facilities, resembling a five-star hotel. Non-traditional pets such as spiders and lizards are also welcome, as long as their owners clarify their routines in advance.

Criticism on luxurious pet hotels

On Weibo, the topic “Luxurious Pet Hotel Charges 900 RMB Per Day” (#豪华宠物酒店900一天#) received some 15 million views this October.

The news, which was first reported by Beijing Youth Daily, stirred discussions on social media. Although many people find the pet hotels cute or funny, there are also many who comment that this kind of extravagance for pets painfully points out the rich-poor divide in China.

“Dogs are living a better life than us humans now,” some said: “I can’t even stay at a hotel that is this expensive.”

One netizen sarcastically commented: “If you can’t afford housing in Beijing, just go and become a pet to someone here.”

Some even find the boom in luxurious pet hotels a worrying trend, saying “this will intensify the social conflicts.”

Besides the extravagant pet spoiling, there are also other reasons why netizens criticize the spread of fancy pet lodging. On social media, questions over epidemic issues are also surfacing.

Some companies that were interviewed by Chinese media failed to show any credentials for providing lodging services and had no in-house veterinary to offer health examinations for the pets taken in; China currently does not have a specific national legal framework nor corresponding regulatory measures for qualified pet lodgings.

By Qing Yan

Edited by Manya Koetse.
©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Local News

China’s ‘Wedding of the Year’ Is the Talk of the Day on Weibo

This rich second generation “fu’erdai” couple just celebrated China’s wedding of the year in Wenzhou.

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Although many still think of Angelababy and Huang Xiaoming when talking about ‘China’s biggest wedding’, this fu’erdai couple have just celebrated a wedding that is even more extravagant.

See our latest Weivlog on this Wenzhou wedding of the year, which became one of top trending topics on Weibo on October 11, here:

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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