You never know when or where you’re going to meet your next best friend.

But one thing is for certain: When you do find that person (or animal), you’ll never let them go.

Just ask Scottish runner Dion Leonard. When he traveled to Xinjiang, China, to participate in the week-long Gobi March 4 Deserts Race, he was anticipating intense heat and grueling running conditions. But what he didn’t expect was to have his heart completely stolen in the process.

It was Leonard’s first time competing in the 155-mile race across the Tian Shan Mountains and China’s ancient Silk Road.

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The run would be very physically demanding for even the fittest person, let alone a small dog. But that’s exactly what competitors saw running alongside them on the first day.

Leonard quickly realized that the stray people were calling Tinto took a special liking to him, and they bonded instantly.

She followed him around everywhere in the camps and through four of the race’s six stages, inspiring him to change her name to Gobi.

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The only reason she didn’t run with him in the other two stages was because it would have been dangerously hot for her.

But she didn’t mind when she got to snuggle with him later.

And when Leonard finally crossed the finish line in second place, Gobi was right there beside him. That’s when he knew he had to bring her home with him, despite the difficult hurdles he would have to jump to get her from China to Scotland.

Unfortunately, he had to leave her there temporarily with a 4 Deserts manager, but he is currently working with the Hong Kong SPCA and other members of the race group to arrange her transport to his home in Edinburgh.

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He even created a Crowdfunder page and raised all the money he would need to pay for Gobi’s flight in just one day.

She’ll need to be quarantined in China and once again when she reaches the U.K., so he won’t have her home for at least another six months. But I’m sure Leonard will agree with me when I say that this cutie is worth waiting for.

(via Reshareworthy)

What a wonderful bond. Hopefully, we’ll all be able to witness their amazing reunion. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to go give my dog a huge hug.

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