Scots athlete and runaway stray pup make emotional reunion

Gobi has been reunited with owner. Picture: Contributed

Gobi has been reunited with owner. Picture: Contributed

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A STRAY Chinese puppy that inspired £20,000 of donations to give her a new home in Scotland - then ran away - has been reunited with her owner.

Stray pup Gobi had been lost in Urumqi, China for over a week ago after running off just days before she was due to begin her journey to Britain.

Athlete Dion Leonard planned to adopt the lovable pooch and bring her back home to Edinburgh after the pair struck up an unlikely friendship.

The inseparable pair became the stars of a Gobi desert marathon after being spotted running alongside each other during the gruelling 250km marathon in June.

But in a remarkable turn of events, the four legged friend went missing eight days ago when she ran out of an open door while being looked after at a friends house.

READ MORE: Appeal made after athlete’s puppy Gobi runs away

At that point, almost £10,000 was raised to help Dion and volunteers search for the pup. Dion, 41, flew back to China last week to head up the search.

But after eight days on the run, the twosome have finally been reunited.

It is understood that Gobi was found by a man walking his own dog in a local park. The man had seen the campaign to find Gobi and called her name. He made sure she followed him all the way home.

One of the volunteers who searched for Gobi, Jennifer Jones-Lagua, said: “When Dion saw her he didn’t speak but Gobi recognised him and went mad and ran circles around him. He knew then it was Gobi.”

An emotional online post read: “Gobi has been found. She’s safe and well, a wee sore leg but overjoyed to see Dion ... sticks to him like glue.

“A massive thank you to all the support, especially the group of volunteers that have been working tirelessly to find her.

“Thank you thank you from the bottom of our hearts, we are overjoyed.”

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Thousands of ecstatic messages have been left from wellwishers from all over the world.

Anne Lemieux said: “This is a miracle. Thank you God, anyone who was involved in the search, you are heroes.”

Brooke Russell wrote: “I’m crying tears of joy. That squeal broke my heart. Please heal her and get her home asap.”

And Karen Baird said: “I am so happy to hear such good news. Congrats to everyone involved and a heartfelt thanks to everyone who searched and spread the word. Wow. Happy to see such a positive outcome.”

Gobi, who is thought to be around 18-months-old, joined Dion and his team at the Tian Shan mountain range and ran along with them across the Black Gobi Desert.

Over the space of a week, the dog raced through four of the six stages in the race with Dion even carrying her across long stretches of river to help her along.

The team wouldn’t allow Gobi to take part in stages four and five of the race due to temperatures hitting 52 degrees celsius.

But she did manage to complete the final stage and running through the finish line with her new owner.

Plans were arranged for Gobi to be medically checked, quarantined in Beijing and cleared for entry back to Scotland for her new life - costing a whopping £5,000.

The crowdfunding campaign, launched on July 27, reached the initial £5,000 target in less than 24 hours - with any extra money being donated to a dog home charity.

After going missing last week, a second crowdfunding page was set up in order to raise money to help find Gobi - raising almost £10,000 in a week.

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