Australian marathoner Dion Leonard found a new best friend while competing in one of the world’s most grueling races.
A stray dog captured the attention, and later the heart, of the runner during the seven day 4 Deserts Race Series in China. The dog, who Leonard named Gobi (as in the Gobi Desert), accompanied Leonard for more than 77 miles of his journey.
“At the start of day two, Gobi was on the start line next to me looking up at me,” Leonard told The Independent. “I didn’t speak much to her that day thinking she wouldn’t stay with me, but at the finish line she followed me into the tent and we slept next to each other. That was it then.”
After the race, Leonard wanted to bring Gobi with him to Edinburgh, Scotland, where he currently resides. But he needed to raise approximately $6,500 to have the dog quarantined and medically cleared. He turned to a crowdfunding website, and has more than doubled his goal, as of this writing.
The BBC reports that Leonard is hoping to have Gobi home for Christmas.
[image via screengrab]
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