Edinburgh, Fife & East Scotland

Gobi marathon runner returns to Edinburgh with dog

Gobi and Dion pass the finishing line Image copyright 4Deserts.com/Omni Cai
Image caption They duo met while Mr Leonard was running a 250km ultra-marathon across China

An ultra-marathon runner has finally been able to return to Edinburgh with a dog who "adopted" him during a race in China.

Gobi the dog had joined Dion Leonard on a 250km (155 mile) run across the Gobi desert in June.

They became inseparable before the dog suddenly went missing.

They were reunited in August and Gobi finally joined Mr Leonard in flying back to Scotland on Tuesday.

The story of Dion and Gobi first captured hearts when news spread about how Gobi had followed him through his run across mountain and desert areas across China.

When the dog vanished, an online campaign was launched to find and eventually reunite her with her new owner.

Image copyright 4Deserts.com/Omni Cai
Image caption Gobi joined Mr Leonard on her first run at Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh

Australian-born Mr Leonard said: "There were times when I just didn't think it was going to happen. I never really pictured the moment of walking through the door because I didn't want to believe it until it actually happened. So it was such a surreal event...after all this time.

"She has settled in very quickly. She has gotten to know our cat - they seem to be getting on pretty well which is good. We all slept together in the same bed last night and there was no fighting, so everything is pretty good.

"Today we went for a run at Arthur's Seat which is just about two blocks from my house. That was the first time we had been running properly in the mountains since she joined me on the second day of the race back in June.

"She just had that spring in her step and was keen to get going. We only did five miles but it was just so cool to be doing that again with her, just knowing what we'd gone through and now being back here in my own back yard was just amazing."

'Growing confidence'

Mr Leonard added: "I made Gobi a promise and told her I was going to bring her to the UK, and I am just so glad we got through the ups and down. We've battled through things to get here and that's the most important thing.

"I wouldn't have changed a thing other than the part where she went missing, although we could have done without all the grief. That was the real low point of the whole journey.

"It was something that was really tough to take. Even now when I look back and see the imagery of when we found her again, and see the state she was in, it just breaks my heart.

"Seeing her now, growing the way she does in confidence, the way she walks around like she owns the street, she is just a completely different dog. She has still got that same resilience and determination.

"When we flew back, the whole journey took 41 hours and throughout the whole thing it was like it was us back at the race. She knew she had to go through it and she did what she had to do.

"I kept saying to her 'just believe in me, we're going to have a great life when we get up to Edinburgh'. And I'm looking forward to sharing that with her."

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