(NEW YORK) — A stray dog completed a 1,100-mile trek across China, climbing 12 mountains in nearly 25 days. All it took to get the dog to complete the mission was giving it a bone.
The tenacious pup, nicknamed “Xiaosa,” or Little Sa, encountered a team of cyclists in the beginning stages of a race from Sichuan province to Tibet. When one of the cyclists fed the hungry-looking dog some food, the smart dog decided to stay with the hands that fed him and continued the race, the BBC reported.
Soon Xiaosa was the team’s mascot, and a national hero in China was born.
A blog started by one of the cyclists chronicling Xiaosa’s adventures had attracted 40,000 fans by the end of the race, according to the BBC.
The UK’s Telegraph reported that the dog’s Internet followers in China have nicknamed her “Forrest Gump,” after the fictional Tom Hanks character that ran and ran and ran in the movie of the same name.
“She was lying, tired, on the street around Yajiang, Sichuan province,” one cyclist told China Daily. “So we fed her, and then she followed our team.”
The dog, the cyclists reported, kept up with them on their daily treks of 30 to 40 miles and even stayed on foot while others took a shortcut.
“Many people stopped cycling in some sections, then took the bus, but the dog made it,” a cyclist told the paper.
The riders also reported that Xiaosa, whose breed was not reported, also stayed with them on climbs up mountains as high as 14,000 feet and, although tiny in stature, fended off attacks from other dogs.
The cyclists’ journey ended last week but Xiaosa’s story continues to have a happy ending.
The once stray and hungry dog has been adopted by one of the cyclists and received a clean bill of health from a veterinarian after her long, eventful journey.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Paul Cruickshank and Michael Pearson, CNN