A stray dog who ran an incredible 1,100 miles across China with a group of cyclists has finally found a basket to call her own.
Internet sensation Xiao Sa had the good fortune of being adopted by one of her new friends from the race and flown to their home in Wuhan, Hubei province.
The cross-country cyclists bade their canine companion farewell as she was packed into a crate to embark on a fresh adventure – living with cyclist Zhang Heng.
Xiao Sa followed the team’s race for 24 days along 1,100 miles of highway from Kangding, Sichuan Province to Lhasa in Tibet.
Nobody knows where the white dog came from, but she has now been flown back from Tibet to the home of Mr Heng.
Xiao Sa has been dubbed the ‘dog with determination’ and the micro blog ‘Go Go Xiao Sa’, which details her adventures, has attracted more than 37,000 followers.
Speaking of the moment he first met Xiao Sa on highway G318 in the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Mr Heng said: ‘She was lying tired on the street so we fed her and then she followed our team’.
From that point on, Xiao Sa followed them the entire way, climbing 10 mountains higher than 4,000m.
Mr Heng, 22, said: ‘I and Xiao Sa met on the road, but she recognised me as a good friend and owner. I won’t leave her alone.’
After that, ‘Little Sa’ simply refused to stop following.
Since then she has become a celebrity in her homeland and a micro blog recording her life online has attracted more than 37,000 followers in two weeks.
More than 4,000 comments on a micro blog online were left congratulating her after a picture was posted of Xiao Sa in the arms of her new friend in front of the Llasa’s Potala Palace.
Mr Heng, a student in Wuhan, Hubei province, had decided to cycle to Llasa as a graduation trip with friends when he met a lonely dog.
They thought she was following for fun, but found she insisted on sticking around them day and night.
We felt she might want to come along with us, so we decided to bring her along to the end.’
A week later, Mr Zhang and his friends opened the micro blog account for her.
‘We thought the dog was encouraging us, and wanted others to know its story,’ he told China Daily.
They created the name Xiao Sa by combining xiao, meaning ‘little’, with the last syllable of Lhasa.
During their journey, Xiao Sa, Zhang and his team covered 1,138 miles and climbed 10 mountains higher than 4,000m.
Xiao Sa just ran up the mountains or along dirt roads.
‘Many people stopped cycling in some sections, then took the bus, but the dog made it,’ he said.
Zhang put the dog on the back of the bike when the team was riding downhill.
‘The speed can reach 43 miles per hour, impossible for the dog to catch us.’ Then word began to spread of the cyclist and the homeless dog.
Wang Penghao, 24, from Jiuzhaigou, Sichuan province, said: ‘I’ve heard about her from other friends who rode to Lhasa on the road before I met her.
‘They told me to take care of her if I saw her, and give her some food and water like they did.
‘She followed us for three days, running behind our team but sometimes leading us. She’s very smart and knows the route, because she never got lost even when we passed through mountains.’
After following Wang, the dog lagged behind and met another cyclist, Wang Zi, on May 4.
‘She may be the first dog who ran to Lhasa along this route,’ said Wang Zi, who was followed by the dog one day.
‘I have a special feeling about her, especially when I found she was never lost, waited for us at milestones on the road, and ran all the time, making me feel that she never feels tired,’ he said.
Wang Zi will continue to the foot of Qomolangma, known as Mount Everest in the West, after he arrives in Lhasa.
‘If possible, I would like to take the dog with me, taking her to see a more splendid scene.’
Mr Heng, who accompanied Xiao Sa for 20 days, called her ‘a buddy and a friend’.
‘I would like to take the dog home and take care of her. She has been a stray on the road for a long time. She needs a home.’