One of the most heart-warming articles I’ve read recently is about the now-famous stray dog who joined runner Dion Leonard through an estimated 105 miles of a 155-mile ultra-marathon in June. “Gobi,” as she came to be named, showed up on the first day of the seven-day Gobi March, and after sticking by Leonard’s side throughout day 2, he realized she wasn’t going anywhere.
Heartwarming tales of strays in the news
Gobi and Leonard’s is hardly the first unbelievable story involving a stray. In fact, in 1917, an army private took in a stray nosing around Yale who he named Stubby. Serving during World War I alongside his master, Stubby went on to be ranked a Sergeant in the US Army by capturing an enemy spy (and probably being the only sergeant to do so by biting said spy).
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Questionable accounts abound on the Internet about the daring feats of stray dogs, and they go viral almost instantly. The reason? Dog lovers everywhere believe that these amazing stories are possible because they know how smart and loyal dogs truly are. That loyalty makes sense when thinking of the loving relationship between a dog and his owner. But when considering the two stories above, what is the connection between dogs and humans that causes even strays to seek out human companionship?
Dogs are, by nature, social animals. As pack animals, it is against their nature to be alone. In fact, most pack animals cannot survive when separated from the protection of the pack. Domestic dogs are a far cry from their wolf ancestors; however, their need to have companionship is no less critical. Some dogs even have such strong relationships with their humans that they experience severe separation anxiety when away from them.
Keep in mind that many stray dogs were not always homeless – they may have run away, been lost, or been abandoned. Some of them were mistreated and may be leery of humans as a result. Chances are good, though, that at some point in their lives, they have benefitted from the kindness of humans who fed them, gave them water, and provided them with some much-needed affection.
— Swittch (@SwittchHQ) August 8, 2016
Dogs are also very intuitive creatures. In the story of Gobi, Leonard mentions that he saw her keeping pace alongside a group of American runners. Though somehow, on the start of the second day, she found him. She chose Dion Leonard. Did she realize that of all of the runners in the race, he was the one watching to see if she was still with them on the first day? Did she have some innate sense that told her his was the heart she had touched, and he would become her best friend?
After just 7 days of knowing each other, Leonard committed to a 4+ month and $6500 process of bringing Gobi home; she is already a part of his family, and he is just working to bring her home. Many dog parents can relate to these extreme measures and know it’s worth it, because – after all – we would do that, and more, for our best friends. That is the power of the incredible connection between dogs and the humans who love them.