The small stray dog latched onto a group of touring bicyclists in central China and followed them all the way to Tibet, a distance of some 1,000 miles.
The bicyclists first saw the dog in Ya’an, a city in the central Chinese province of Sichuan, when they stopped at a police station to get their identify papers checked. Seeing the dog curled up in a corner, one of them gave her some food and water.
When they left town, the dog followed.
According to accounts, the group named their mascot Xiao Sa, which combines the word Small with the last syllable of their destination, Lhasa.
The dog climbed a dozen mountain passes at more than 12,000 feet elevation as the bicyclists cross the Tibetan Plateau. Apparently the dog would run ahead of the cyclists and meet them at mileposts or turns. At other times, she lagged behind.
The tour group bought a travel cage and mounted it on the rear rack of one of the bicycles so Xiao Sa could catch a ride on the screaming downhill runs. Apparently the little dog got to ride in the cage on days when he didn’t feel like running 50 or 60 kilometers a day, as well.
Along the way to Lhasa, the bicycle tour group started a “micro blog” for Xiao Sa that gained thousands of followers. The blog recalls the character of Forrest Gump in telling the story of the dog and how she became an inspiration for many.
Now, Xiao Sa has gone from stray dog to international celebrity.
She’s also got a home, as one of the bicyclists adopted her.