A lonely stray dog moved by an act of human kindness has won thousands of fans after following the man who fed him on a grueling 24 day, 1700 kilometer cross-country journey.
Cyclist Zhang Heng, 22, was competing in a punishing, multi-day mountain bike race when he happened upon a small, sad stray dog in Sichuan province on May 4th. Feeling for the hungry animal, he offered the only thing he had to give it: a chicken drumstick.
That simple gesture, offered without expectation, had a profound effect on the dog. From that moment, it would not let Zhang Heng out of his sight. When the race resumed, the determined little dog joined the cyclists and ran beside them.
“She was lying, tired, on the street,” Heng told reporters. “So we fed her, and then she followed our team.”
The dog didn’t just join the race – she ran the remainder of it, keeping pace with cyclists for 24 days over 1200 arduous miles, following them to the finish line in Tibet.
“At first we didn’t consider keeping it and thought she just wanted to follow us for a while. But it showed a very strong willpower and followed us all the way here,” said cyclist Xiao Yong.
Nicknamed ‘Xiao Sa’, the dog climbed over 10 mountains during the race without falling behind. Xiao Yong said there were approximately 300 cyclists in the race, but many of them burned out before the final stage and hopped buses to the finish line. Xiaosa, on the other hand, was still fresh despite days spent on the run. She crossed the finish line with three other cyclists to deafening applause from her throngs of admirers.
Her triumphant finish made headlines the world over, but what happened next made for an even bigger happy ending. After 24 days spent pursuing the man who had touched her so deeply, the once unwanted dog won him over. Moved by her loyalty and perseverance, Zhang Heng said he would take Xiao Sa back to his hometown and adopt her.
“I would like to take the dog home and take care of her,” he said. ” She has been a stray on the road for a long time. She needs a home.”