There’s nothing like a heartwarming tale from a cold place. It was in the dry wasteland of the second largest desert in Asia where an ultra-marathoner encountered a little stray dog that changed both their lives.

Dion Leonard was running a seven-day marathon across the Gobi desert when a furry fellow (later named, obviously, Gobi) showed up and started running with him to finish the second stage of the race. “I have no idea why, whether it was my smell – we don’t shower during the week in these races... or whether it was something else, in terms of whether it was a past-life connection,” says Leonard about their bond in the video above.

They ran 126 km together, crossing mountains and rivers, and this life-changing journey made Leonard resolve to adopt Gobi and take her with him to Scotland. “I think it was a situation where she needed help, and she needed someone to be there for her, and I could see that. I could be that person to change her life.”

He departed China, leaving Gobi with a temporary caretaker. The journey to bring Gobi home wasn’t easy. News reached Leonard that Gobi had suddenly disappeared, and he rushed back to China to look for her. With the help of local volunteers, he started a city-wide search for her, and even launched a social media campaign. Just as he was about to give up, after nine days of searching, he found her.

So dramatic is his story that he wrote a memoir, documenting the saga in Finding Gobi: The Amazing True Story, which has turned Gobi into a global celebrity with a huge following on social media. She’s reportedly even being signed up for a film adaptation of the book. Leonard wants to use his story to encourage other people to adopt animals, and even organised a two-km run called “Jog with Gobi”, to raise money for a local shelter in Edinburgh.