When KATC reporters were asked to come up with Valentine’s Week stories, Cathedral-Carmel Catholic School in Lafayette presented an ideal opportunity. On Monday, February 10th, in front of students from third grade to sixth, author Dion Leonard and his dog, Gobi, offered a tale---with a tail—of pure love. “Yes, it’s an incredible story with this stray dog that changed both of our lives together,” says Leonard.
Go back in time to 2016, when Leonard was running an ultramarathon across the Gobi Desert in China. The goal is to win a six-day, seven-stage race; but fate, however, had a different endgame. “In the heat of the dessert, across the middle of nowhere basically, this little dog came out and started running with me,” explains Leonard. “We fall in love; she runs four stages and 80 miles, and that’s where our bond and love began.”
Leonard’s immediate thoughts, though, weren’t so much about love or bonding; it was about annoyance. “I thought she was a little bit of a pest, and I was like, ‘why is she following me?’ But then, over the course of the week, I would fall in love and actually make some decisions to pick her up and that would be a life-changing moment.”
As the race evolved, Leonard decided to fall back from the leaders and go back to the river bank behind him to rescue the dog and help her cross the water. “That was on Day Three,” adds Leonard, “and I made her a promise to take her home to Edinborough, Scotland and give her a better life.”
Leonard had the Cathedral students ‘oo-ing’ and ‘ah-ing’ during the 90-minute discussion, after which they were able to both pet the dog--- soon named Gobi—have their books autographed. (Note: There are children’s, young adult and adult versions of Finding Gobi available at book outlets nearly everywhere, and it’s been printed in 20 languages).
Gobi, who will turn six-years old in June, lives comfortably with Leonard and his wife, Lucja, and his message to readers is a simple one. “It’s a heart-warming and inspiring story that came from one act of kindness, namely, helping Gobi across the river because she couldn’t get across on her own. That one act truly altered both of our lives forever, and I wouldn’t change a thing.”
Movie rights to Finding Gobi have been sold, and so it’s possible that we may see Gobi and Dion walk the red carpet in the very near future. It’s all good, concludes Leonard. All… very good. “And now we’ve travelled the world, met some incredible people. We love being in Lafayette, sharing our story. But it really goes to show you that being kind to others, and being kind to animals, you never know where life will take you.”