THE story of how a marathon runner from the Capital and a stray dog struck up an unlikely friendship in the Chinese Gobi Desert is being made into a book series.
“Finding Gobi” will tell the tale of how long-distance runner Dion Leonard, an Australian, met the dog during a gruelling 250-kilometre ultra marathon in June.
The animal, named after the desert where the pair met, ran 125km of the race with Dion in some of the toughest conditions.
After striking up a special bond, the athlete set up a crowdfunding campaign to raise enough money to bring Gobi back to Scotland with him.
Almost £40,000 was raised, paying 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 that the story of his bond with Gobi would be made into three books which are due for release next year.
The series will cover their whole journey, including when Gobi ran away for ten days, sparking a 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.”
The news prompted fans who have followed the story to suggest that it be turned into a film.
The 41-year-old is currently with Gobi in Beijing, China, while she completes four months of quarantine before moving to Scotland later this year.
The book, produced through the HarperCollins’ global publishing programme, 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 that he tracked them down in China.
Mr De Souza 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 250km “ultra” marathon across the Chinese Gobi Desert in June.
However, while being looked after by a race crew member in the town of Urumqi as money was being raised and paperwork completed, Gobi ran away.
Dion flew back in from Edinburgh to join a city-wide search to find her. She was finally found ten days later by a local dog walker.