Sometimes, it’s fun to just run.
It’s fun to get your legs pumping, to pound feet on pavement, and pump your arms until your head clears. The faster you go, the better it gets and that can make you really happy. And, as in the new book, “Finding Gobi ” by Dion Leonard, if you’re lucky, it can also make you a new best friend.
Dion Leonard loved to run.
Unfortunately, he didn’t feel like he was good at it anymore. Not long ago, he’d hurt his leg and, much as he wanted to get back into marathon running, it wasn’t easy. Still, he’d signed up to run 70 miles through China . Maybe that old joy would return.
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And then Dion saw the dog.
She was kind of scruffy, with a funny-looking tail and hair around her nose that made her look like she had a beard. He patted her and sent her off but when the race started, she started running right next to him! Dion didn’t give the dog much thought, but she paced him until that night at runner’s camp, then she curled up next to him in his tent.
The next day, the little dog ran alongside Dion, up rocks and across sand. She never got tired, and he started to like having this companion on the marathon. At the end of the day, he made arrangements to get her across the most dangerous part of the race; those little paws simply wouldn’t be able to make it across the Gobi desert.
There. The dog had a name.
By the end of the marathon, in which Dion did exceptionally well, he had fallen in love with the little brown dog and vowed to take her home to Scotland with him. That, he quickly learned, was easier said than done: there was yards of paperwork, all kinds of tests, quarantine, and several airplane rides - but those wasn’t the hardest parts.
Someone, it seemed, wanted to make a profit off Dion’s quest to bring his dog home. And others didn’t want his dog around at all…
Hand your child this book, and she may immediately know that its ending won’t be sad. The outcome is practically on the front cover – and yet, “Finding Gobi” is too charming to pass by.
Who can resist a tale of determination against all odds, cost, and logistics, when it comes to the love of a dog? Few could, that’s for sure, but be prepared for the questions that this child’s version of a grown-up book will launch: author Dion Leonard writes subtly of his own issues at the beginning of the race, of a non-dog-loving culture, and of fame that turns strangely threatening. Because this is a young readers edition, full explanations may go lacking; also, language may be pretty advanced.
The best solution to those issues is to read “Finding Gobi” along with your 8-to-12-year-old. You won’t be sorry. As much as you love your dog, you’ll “get” this book, so make a run on it.
At a glance
Title: “Finding Gobi: The True Story of One Little Dog’s Big Journey”
Author: Dion Leonard
Publisher: Tommy Nelson/HarperCollins
Length: 208 pages
Cost: $14.99/$18.50 Canada