THE HEARTWARMING story of how a marathon runner and stray dog struck up an unlikely friendship in the Gobi desert is being made into a book series.
“Finding Gobi” will tell the tale of how Australian marathon runner Dion Leonard met the dog during a gruelling 250-kilometer marathon in China in June.
The pooch, named after the famous desert where the unlikely pair met, ran 125km of the race with him in some of the toughest of conditions before Dion vowed to bring her home to Edinburgh with him.
After striking up a special bond, the kind-hearted athlete set up a crowdfunding campaign to raise enough money to bring Gobi back home to Scotland with him.
Almost £40,000 was raised to pay for quarantine and travelling costs with the rest being donated to animal charities.
On Tuesday, Dion, who lives in Edinburgh with his wife Lucja, announced how the story of his special bond with Gobi will be made into three books – due to be released next year.
The series will cover their whole journey including when Gobi ran away for ten days – sparking an intense city-wide search.
Writing to his 27,000 fans on the Bring Gobi Home Facebook page, he said: “The story of Dion and Gobi’s bond and journey has captured the hearts of people around the world and we are really excited to announce that HarperCollins also recognise this and will be releasing in June 2017 a book on Dion and Gobi’s life story titled ‘Finding Gobi’ in a paperback, young adult and children’s book.
“We were really keen to be involved with this opportunity when HarperCollins approached us as we saw this as a great opportunity to highlight the plight of stray dogs not only in China but around the world to show what we can do as humans together to help man’s best friend.
“We will be donating 10% of all money we make from ‘Finding Gobi ‘ book sales to continue work in China to help dogs in need like Gobi.”
The exciting news prompted fans who have followed the story to suggest it was turned into a movie.
The 41-year-old is currently by Gobi’s side in Beijing, China, while she continues her four months of quarantine before moving to Scotland later this year.
The book, published through the HarperCollins’ global publishing program, will be released in English, Spanish, Japanese and Dutch and will also include a children’s version.
Literary agent Paul De Souza was so touched by Dion and Gobi’s story, he tracked them down in China.
He said: “I was so intrigued by this miraculous story of a dog who befriended a runner for 78 miles in the Gobi Desert and I knew there had to be much more to the story.”
HarperCollins UK publishing strategy director, Oliver Malcolm, said: “The story of Dion and Gobi is ultimately one of happiness and, of course, hope. We are looking forward enormously to publishing this book in the UK.”
Gobi, who is thought to be between 18 months and three years old, met Dion during a 6 stage/7 day 250km ultra marathon across the Chinese Gobi Desert in June.
While being looked after by a race crew member in Urumqi as money was being raised and internal paperwork completed, Gobi ran away.
Dion flew back in from Edinburgh to join a city wide search to find her, attracting a further £10,000 worth of crowdfunding donations.
She was finally found ten days later by a local dog walker who recognised her from flyers and called her name.
UK law states that a dog entering the UK without previous paperwork, blood tests and rabies shots must spend 30 days for initial blood test at their country of origin then a further 120 days in quarantine.
Dion decided to take a six month sabbatical from his job at William Grant and Son whisky distillers so he could stay by her side throughout the whole process.