Echoing on from my last blog…
…it’s been a while since my last post and what a rollercoaster of highs and lows!
First to mention would be that we now have a new member to our family – Jura our wee #GoldenNugget Labrador Pup! We saw her on our return trip from France and decided that she was the girl for us and all our future crazy adventures togeva! #vanlife Now at 11 weeks old, she’s had her 2nd and last inoculation jag and will be able to explore the #GreatOutdoors as of next Tuesday, can’t wait for this to happen and begin to share some trails with her new found world of adventures…
The other main topic that I wanted to feature here was about my buddy Dion, who I wrote about on my last blog, whilst on holiday, celebrating his epic Gobi 4 Deserts Race that he not only completed but “Championed” in finishing with second place medal as well as, more importantly, gaining a soul mate in the small dog that joined him out there called Gobi.
Once Dion arrive back on Scottish soil, he had mentioned to me that he was looking into getting a fundraiser page set up to help with the next stages of adopting Gobi and liaising with all Chinese agencies and all the ‘red tape’ that goes with appealing to adopt and release a wild stray dog from China. To cover the costs Dion was looking at a fund target of £5,000 and was wondering if I could help out with some cartoon graphics to help promote the awareness of this appeal. We were going to rely on the kind generosity and care of others to help reach this goal, a goal I though was achievable but would certainly take some time and effort on social media and other avenues. I love these kind of charitable challenges as it can allow for me to get involved in various creative shenanigans to help make some noise and achieve our goal. #BringGobiHome
Boy how wrong was I…!
Having only made a couple of initial graphics and assisted online sharing the campaign, we had a media storm hit and within 24hrs our goal was met and carried on climbing…!
The response was awesome! I knew there would be a healthy response by some but not anything like this. Dion and Gobi were going to be reunited again for sure, this was now set in stone due to the funds and international interest that came with this appeal.
Dion was overwhelmed by the response and was at times finding it hard to have time to think between all the radio and tv interviews that were now being asked of him, having him share this story of two kindred spirits, finding each other on the desert trails, bonding, enduring and sharing the adventure race together.
The response from all the interviews was incredible. Dion and Gobi were national news by now and like may others, I was keen to have it go further and be noticed with all our trail running and dog loving brothers and sisters worldwide. Dion’s connections with the 4 Deserts Race directors, along with other race connections that he has gained from internationally, as well as with his wife Lucja’s connections – also an epic ultra runner in her own right, had now meant that there was no stopping this story snowballing worldwide! Initially through their family, friends, run buddies and then the international press, this story and appeal was growing by the ‘online’ minute. I bumped into Dion between training sessions, as we share the same personal trainer (Donnie Campbell), where he thanked me for my support and I joked about not stopping until he was featured on CNN, as I went about tagging his story to their twitter account as often as I could, with as many #pupdates as possible Not long after that, there they were, Dion and Gobi being featured on CNN, again sharing their story and appeal.
The appeal total just kept growing, just as it did for the worldwide interest and support of these two soulmates. I even had my Argentinian colleague at work come into my office and inform me that my pal and my artwork were now famous at last – we had just been featured in the biggest Argentinian newspaper. All corners of the world were getting to hear about Dion and Gobi’s adventure and appeal, heck even Hollywood A Lister ‘Ashton Kutcher’ was in on the support!!! 😀
Now it was only a matter of time. Gobi needed to go through the Chinese processes, four moths of inoculations, care and quarantine, where hopefully Dion and Lucja would have Gobi home in time for Christmas.
Having been taken care of initially by one the 4 Deserts Race Directors, then a friend of theirs, Dion received a very kind offer from an organisation that dealt with the treatment and care of dogs, where they said that they would house and look after Gobi for the remaining months. A local animal hospital had also come across the story and offered their services and inoculations free of charge. With the response that Dion had received, along with the current support network in place, things were all going well…
…a few weeks in and Dion receives a call that was to leave him devastated.
Gobi was missing!
He had received a phone call that Gobi has been missing in Urumqi, China for a number of days and she has still not been found.
Yesterday we received a phone call that Gobi has been missing in Urumqi, China for a number of days and she has still not been found. We are simply devastated and shocked to hear that she is now on the streets of the city and that our plans to get her to the UK are up in the air. It has literally been the worst 24 hours and I know that my pain and grief will be shared by you all. ”
I can’t tell you how much I felt for Dion, as I read his email telling me of one of the worst phone calls he’s ever taken. He felt that a part of him had died when hearing this news of little Gobi. Gobi had somehow managed to breakaway and escape from his care. Now in a new and unfamiliar city, Gobi was back to being on his own.
Understandable Dion was gutted, so was I in hearing this news but I tried to console him with a positive spin on the situation. Gobi was a stray dog, a proven strong and self-reliant little pup. If Gobi could survive in the remoteness of the Gobi desert, he would find his stride within a city that would certainly be able to offer some forms of shelter, shade, food scraps and water.
Once the news was out that Gobi was missing, the response of heartfelt sadness and support towards Dion was comforting but nothing was going to ease Dion’s pain more than action and this is just what he did. Not long into the timeline of Gobi being missing, and Dion posts saying that he has a plane ticket and is off to find his buddy…!
The days that followed had Dion and many supporters placing flyers up and around local areas, highlighting Gobi’s disappearance. The media was fantastic again in featuring and sharing this tragic development. There were clearly time of worry and helplessness as Dion and friends spent 16hr long days out looking for Gobi. One main frustrations that the area was not an affluent one, therefore no one had mobile phones or any means in reading and more importantly sharing and responding to the latest news. A lot of flyers and leg work was going to be required for this search. To find her would be “nothing short of a miracle”.
As The Washington Post explained, “Urumqi is a huge city of 3 million people, and he feared the dog could even have run back into the countryside that surrounds it, where people speak the Uighur language, don’t use social media and were unlikely to even be aware of the campaign.
I think it was day two where Dion posted a picture online, of which I thought was of Gobi, my heart jumped a beat at the initial sight of this image but sadly it was a post showing how painfully close Dion came to spotting Gobi but it was a lookalike and not our wee lass.
Supportive messages kept coming through for Dion as well as media coverage now featuring his plight in searching for this lost pup. Street after street, hour after hour Dion and his trusted crew continued to search and spread the word of missing Gobi, often seeing some heartfelt situations, where many stray dogs were seen living their daily life in conditions that broke your heart, especially knowing that your wee one was out there somewhere. Surviving.
I had just got home from work and taken our new puppy Jura out to the back garden to wrestle with and play. A bit of guilt would come to mind when posting pictures of Eil and I celebrating our new pup, knowing that a pal had lost his and was frantically searching for her in unknown streets and territory. Then I get it. A simple but heart stopping message from Lucja…
Unbelievable! Everyone that I had spoken to said it would take a miracle to find her and here it was!
With a video clip attached to the message, there was Dion and Gobi reunited once more, sitting and cuddling on a sofa. A true sight that was sure to please many broken hearts worldwide.
It turns out that a Chinese man called and said he and “his son had seen a small stray dog in a local park while walking his own dog. They had brought her home and thought she could be the one.”
The helpful stranger was right. “She came running over towards me, she basically ran round my legs, jumped up on me,” Leonard told BBC Radio 5 live. “It was love again at immediate sight so it was just an amazing feeling and I’m just so grateful for all the help that’s been put into finding her over here.”
Dion struck a more serious tone about the ups and downs of the search to the BBC. “It’s been really difficult to remain positive in front of everyone else, and I’ve been getting back to my room very late at night and falling into a bit of a heap to be honest. I just realized that every day slipping by was another day that we weren’t going to find her before I had to go back to the U.K.”
Dion concluded: “This day is one of the best days of my life.”
Add “We Bloody well found her”
Only one thing for it – Time for a ‘Friends Reunited’ graphic!
And share this great news, this fantastic news!!!!!
For anyone that’s interested, Dion can be followed here:
Further PUPdates: 🙂