Heart­break over, pair re­united

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By CUI JIA in Bei­jing and MAO WEIHUA in Urumqi Con­tact the writ­ers at cui­jia@ chi­nadaily.com.cn

He found her in the mid­dle of the desert in a for­eign land, but she got lost in the city while wait­ing to travel to his home far away.

Heart­bro­ken, he re­turned to China to find her, and the mo­ment they were re­united marked a fairy tale end­ing.

This is the story of Dion Leonard, an Aus­tralian ex­treme marathon run­ner, and Gobi, a stray dog that fol­lowed him dur­ing a race in the Gobi Desert in the Xin­jiang Uygur au­ton­o­mous re­gion.

The pair were re­united on Wed­nes­day in the re­gional cap­i­tal of Urumqi af­ter vol­un­teers’ tire­less ef­forts in search­ing for Gobi fi­nally paid off.

Af­ter the race in June, 41-yearold Leonard de­cided to take Gobi back to his home in Ed­in­burgh, Scot­land. He left her with care­givers in Urumqi un­til he could raise enough money to take Gobi to Bri­tain.

On Aug 15, Leonard was told in a phone call that Gobi had been miss­ing for a while. Sad­dened by the news, he flew to Urumqi on Sun­day, be­liev­ing he could find her.

Since his ar­rival, an in­creas­ing num­ber of vol­un­teers had joined him in the search. They walked the streets hand­ing out re­ward posters and re­spond­ing to every pos­si­ble sight­ing.

On Wed­nes­day, Urumqi resident Ma Liangzhi spot­ted a dog look­ing like Gobi in a small restau­rant close to where the an­i­mal had been cared for.

“I re­mem­bered see­ing her on the re­ward posters, so I took her home and called the con­tact num­ber,” Ma said on Thurs­day.

Ma Ping, a vol­un­teer, re­ceived Ma Liangzhi’s phone call on Wed­nes­day evening. Although she didn’t want to raise Leonard’s hopes af­ter all pre­vi­ous sight­ings ended in dis­ap­point­ment, she still asked him to take a look at the dog.

Gobi was over­joyed to see Leonard, wag­ging her tail hard and fol­low­ing him every­where. “It’s her,” he said.

Ma Ping said: “Gobi jumped around him and wouldn’t let him go. Ev­ery­one was in tears.”

On Thurs­day morn­ing, Leonard and Gobi went for their first walk to­gether, with Gobi on a leash for the first time.

LIU JIE / FOR CHINA DAILY

Dion Leonard is re­united with Gobi.

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