CeeCee’s Pick of the Month: Finding Gobi by Dion Leonard

image of Finding Gobi book coverDog lovers, I know what you’re thinking, so I’m going to assure you that little Gobi is still alive and well with his family in Scotland. Now that we’ve got that settled, let me just say this book gave me everything I needed out of a dog/running memoir and more! This is such an incredible journey that show us all that instalove is a true phenomenon among dogs…humans, eh the verdict’s still out.

The moment the homeless little desert dog laid eyes on HIS HUMAN, he just knew he found his soul mate, his destiny. I truly believe this because my CeeCeee was attached to my side the moment I scooped her up off the street. It’s like they can see far into the future and just know they are home. Out of all the super-human ultra runners camping out in the desert, Gobi only fixated one Dion, well technically he was more obsessed with the yellow gators wrapped around Dion’s shoes. Like a cat with a mouse, he chased after those gators for miles upon miles upon miles. Astonishingly, those tiny legs kept up the pace with a trained elite athlete as they traversed the scorching desert’s rugged peaks and valleys. Just incredible, I tell you! I do a bit of running (half marathons), but there’s no way I could even fathom a full marathon, let alone hundreds of miles in extreme temps. These two unlikely teammates were a powerful force!

At first, I couldn’t make up my mind about our narrator, Dion Leonard, especially when he was growing annoyed of Gobi diving after his feet. But when he found the little guy in distress at a water crossing, he sacrificed his time to run back over to scoop him up and stick by him to the finish line. From then on, Dion surrendered himself to the fact that the scruffy little bearded dog was all his. Also, from a human standpoint, Dion won over my heart when he stopped to rescue a fellow runner—also his biggest rival—who collapsed and nearly died of extreme dehydration. Pretty scary stuff, especially when he described the guy’s grayish pallor and black-tinted urine. Yeesh. Dion is, in my opinion, a good human, and I’m willing to bet Gobi sensed that the moment they crossed paths. Dogs have that way about them.

When the grueling multi-stage race came to an end, Dion’s biggest challenge had yet to begin. He had to find a way to transport the little guy all the way from a dog-unfriendly communist country to Scotland. Y’all! I know there’s a lot of red tape involved in moving a pet across a continent, but the struggles Dion faced were beyond comprehension! There’s months of quarantine at the kennel, airline protocol bullshit, and insurmountable fees upon fees upon fees. To make matters worse, while Dion was sorting his affairs in Scotland, the woman he entrusted to keep Gobi safe managed to lose him! I won’t say anything more on that matter, but I will say that I’m still highly suspicious of that nasty bit of business.

This truly is a fascinating book about the mutual unconditional love between a dog and its human. Together—and with the help from legions of crowd-funding donors and a team of local heroes—they made the impossible possible. Gobi is certainly a miraculous dog with such a big heart. I couldn’t even imagine the pain Dion endured when he learned his best friend was missing in probably the worst possible city for stray dogs. I can imagine the pain would be on par with what runners call “The Wall,” that point in race when you just can’t want to crawl into a hole and die.  I’m just so glad he pushed through and reunited with his miraculous little dog.

“They say it takes a village to raise a child. I think it takes almost half a planet to rescue a dog.”- Dion Leonard

If you’re looking for a heart-warming dog book that doesn’t end in tragedy, you have arrived. I may have to pick up the children’s version of this book to read to CeeCee. Also it looks like Gobi’s kitty sibling has a book out as well—what an accomplished literary fur-family!

Jessica’s Cranky Corner: The Most Un-Inspiring Running Memoir Ever!

13152949This is going to be harsh, so I’ll begin on a good note. Rich Roll’s story of transformation is nothing short of remarkable. It really shows how substance addiction can overpower even the strongest of people. Let’s put it this way, if a man has the fortitude to complete five back-to-back Ironman races on five different Hawaiian islands, overcoming alcohol addiction should be a piece of cake, right? Wrong! It took years and years until he conquered his demons and came into his own. Anyone who believes all drug an alcohol addicts are weak-willed are sorely mistaken.

That, in my opinion, is the most positive takeaway from this book. I’m amazed by Rich Roll’s accomplishments. Yet on a personal level, I’m less than impressed. There are some people in this world who are born into a life of privilege. They take their luxuries for granted and go through life always wanting more, more, more! Rich Roll is one of those people.

The child of two loving, well-to-do parents, he had everything he needed on a silver platter. Problems with bullying? No matter. He can just go to special private school. No swimming program? That’s cool. Just get a private coach.  Accidentally got drunk before meeting up with an Ivy League swim coach? No sweat, the welcome mat is there for the taking. Turns out, his Get Out of Jail Free card even works in DWI cases. Somehow he managed to avoid jail time when his case file miraculously went missing. What luck!

Okay, maybe I’m bitter because I’ve never been blessed with such dumb luck. Seriously, it’s not fair! The tipping point happened when Richy Rich rear-ended a poor woman while he was slugging back a cold one on the way to the office. She was hospitalized, yet he didn’t go into detail about her injuries. Of course, he was exempt from showing any remorse because “his addict brain could not process the consequences of his actions.” Since that was the case, he just kept drinking and driving until his boss got a call from the police. Funny how he owned up to his problem and decided to get clean when his livelihood was threatened.

According to his track record, this was the first time he landed in some serious trouble. Prior to this snafu, he never really had a wake-up call. After acing his way through law school in a drunken haze, he gave his school and his parents the finger at graduation by staggering barefoot across the podium. Why? Because he looked around at his fellow graduates and realized they were all mindless sheep. He had to do something totally off the wall to prove that he’s so very special. In his defense, he felt remorse for embarrassing himself and his parents. Yet even after rehab, after becoming a devout vegan, after completing the “Epic Five,” he’s still that same self-important asshole trying to prove to the world that he’s better than everybody else.

Albeit he accomplished an amazing feat—impossible even. But why? What’s really going on there? Being a type-B person (at the far end of the spectrum), it’s hard to wrap my mind around this obsessive desire to risk life and limb to break a world record. Of course, it’s not a morally reprehensible thing to be the first to climb a mountain or finish a grueling race. I just don’t understand the psychology behind the fanaticism of it all.

My theory is that Rich channeled his addiction into racing and extreme dieting. When it comes to eating, it’s either his way or the highway.  We can either become followers of his squeaky clean eating program or die young from a horrible gluten-induced disease. Sorry, Rich. Scare tactics don’t work with me. They only piss me off. Dieting aside, you piss me off. I bet that lady you rear-ended feels the same way.

If you want to read an inspiring ultra-running memoir, skip this one and read Eat and Run or Born to Run. Sure, both of these books delve into lifestyle advice that I choose to ignore. However the focus isn’t on being the best in the world. These authors run 100-plus distances because they genuinely love the sport. Reading their books, I got the sense that they ran like wild mustangs to feel happy and free.  In Rich’s book, I just felt like he needed to prove something. Even after becoming one of the world’s fittest men, I have a feeling that still won’t be enough.