Finding Gobi: Runner reunited with marathon companion dog

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Media captionDion Leonard tells BBC Radio 5 live about his "amazing" reunion with Gobi

"It was love again at immediate sight", is how Dion Leonard describes the moment he was reunited with his adopted dog, Gobi.

The dog had joined the ultra-marathoner on a 250km (155 mile) run across China's Gobi desert last month.

They became inseparable, winning an online fanbase which helped fund Mr Leonard's plan to bring Gobi to the UK.

But earlier this week, the dog suddenly went missing, sparking an online campaign to find him.

Image copyright Cai

The story of Dion and Gobi first captured hearts when news spread about how Gobi had followed him through his 250km run (155 miles) across mountain and desert areas across China.

"I started to speed off and I'm thinking this dog won't last the whole day but she was still with me at the end. From then on she didn't leave my side," he told the BBC at the time.

Australian-born Mr Leonard had left China after the race, leaving Gobi with a friend, while he organised the medical tests and quarantine procedures to take the dog home with him to Scotland.

On Sunday, after hearing the news Gobi had vanished, he flew back to Urumqi to begin a search, giving out flyers and posting on social media.

'Hard to remain positive'

His search soon caught the attention of audiences worldwide, including those on Chinese micro-blogging site Weibo, who spread information and called on other netizens to help in the search.

Image copyright Weibo
Image caption Posters like these were handed along the streets of Urumqi in an effort to find Gobi

However, he said his hopes began fading after they failed to find a lead for five days.

"It's been really difficult to remain positive in front of everyone else," he told BBC 5 Live. "I've been going back to my room every night and falling into a bit of a heap."

Finally, he received a call from a local Chinese man on Wednesday night, who had seen Gobi at the local park.

"A local person had seen all the posters and the TV work and was walking his dog when he spotted Gobi and he called me.

"To be honest we've been down this track before with a couple of other dogs and we were quite uncertain it was actually her."

Image copyright Cai
Image caption Dion's hopes were starting to fade after there was still no sign of finding Gobi after five days

"When we got there, I walked through the door and she came running towards me and ran around my legs and jumped up on me. It was love again at immediate sight."

Ecstatic fans quickly took to social media upon hearing the good news.

"I am crying in public I am so happy for you guys!", said one user on Twitter.

"I can sleep soundly tonight!, said another user.

Image copyright Facebook
Image caption Facebook users were overjoyed upon hearing the news

Others called for British Airways to fly the duo home for free, first class.

Even across Chinese social media, fans were rejoicing.

"Hope you have a good life abroad Gobi!", said one user on micro-blogging site Weibo.

"I hope the food abroad is to your liking Gobi! Take care" said another.

Image copyright Dion Leonard
Image caption Dion isn't planning on letting go of Gobi anytime soon

This time, after losing Gobi, Mr Leonard isn't taking anymore chances.

"I'll be staying here as long as it takes to make sure everything is in place," he said.

"I'm going to try to do two things tonight: try not to cry and not to swear, I'm so excited. It's one of the best days of my life."

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