He needed a miracle, and he sure as heck got one.
Dion Leonard, an ultra-marathoner who lives in Scotland, fell in love with a little yellow dog he met while tearing across China’s Gobi Desert in a grueling, 155-mile race.
The stray ran alongside Leonard, and straight into his heart, as man and mutt trotted over mountains, rocks and sand.
Since finishing the March race in second place, Leonard has been working to bring the terrier mix he named Gobi home to Edinburgh.
Gobi and Leonard at the finish line in China. (4Deserts.com/Omni Cai I)
But last week, Leonard got word that Gobi had disappeared. So went to Beijing, and traveled to the village of Urumqi, where Gobi had been living with residents associated with the race.
For days, Leonard handled out fliers, walking the streets with a group of volunteers, all of them searching a very large region for a very tiny dog.
Leonard appeared on TV interviews and pleaded his case to anyone who listened — and a great many did.
"I had been getting more depressed as each day went by," knowing he had to fly home on Sunday, he told InsideEdition.com by phone from China.
At that point, Gobi had been on the run for 10 days.
Then he got a phone call Wednesday night. A woman who offered to hand out fliers after seeing Leonard interviewed on television, happened to hand one to someone who had seen the dog.
“It was all coincidence,” said the 41-year-old runner who is an executive with Scottish distillers William Grant & Sons.
After going on a few false alarm visits, Leonard fully expected the latest sighting to be wrong as well.
Leonard and Gobi running in the Gobi Desert. (4Deserts.com/Omni Cai I)
"She saw me across the room and recognized me immediately,” Leonard recounted. “It was amazing. She was literally all over me.”
And she hasn’t strayed more than a few feet from him since.
“I was not expecting it to be her, so I was completely taken aback. When I got back to my room, I talked about it with my wife and that’s when it hit me.
“I was so thankful, and there were tears.”
A marathon man and his dog. (4Deserts.com/Omni Cai I)
Gobi was found less than two miles from where she had been staying. She has a sore leg and some wounds on her head, and Leonard plans to take her to a vet.
Then he’s going to take her to Beijing, to begin the long quarantine process necessary before she can be processed for relocation to Great Britain.
“We’ve been on a roller coaster,” he said. “It was hell on earth for 10 days. But thankfully, miracles happen. You couldn't make it up.”