Although this story is a blast from the past, it is still such a great story – hence it’s addition here.
There are some rare events were adventurers and dogs can travel, race and tour together, but not enough. There are a few, rare remarkable stories of stray dogs joining teams of travellers, like Arthur who joined Swedish Team Peak Performace Adventure Race Team in Equador and the story below fits into this category.
As a bike enthusiast and trail dog owner, I am a big fan of riding with dogs and have often lamented that there is such a restriction about dogs on trails. I have long argued for a mixed species MTB event that is made up of a rider, bike and dog as a team for MTB festivals (mixed species teams – and then as the attendance grows, move into new divisions such as same sex and/or mixed gender species events … to cater for the understandable and obvious growth in popularity of such events!). Anyhow, until such events eventuate become mainstream, international newsworthy stories such as this gem are certainly welcomed for its positivity and feel-good vibes promoting the unique bond between dogs and their riders.
The Xiaosa Story
This is a story of a stray dog that joined a band of cyclists on their epic 20 day, 1,833km graduation ride across China from Sichuan province to Tibet. There are many links to this story as it was quite a hit, but many of the English-speaking print media just gave perfunctory details, whereas this news report went the extra mile to present some interesting facts and a few extra pictures – it is well worth the read. Having lived and travelled through China for a couple of years, I also find this story particularly heart-warming as I very challenged during my Chinese travels about the way I saw most dogs treated – so this story is doubly positive for me – an encouraging cycling trip and an affirming dog story.
The cycling trip across China
The cycling trip was arranged as a graduation get together. Very early on, the group had stopped for lunch, and one of the cyclists took pity on first seeing the poor wretch, lying forlornly, tired and hungry-looking in the street, so he fed her. From that moment on, the dog joined the group, running alongside them and ending up as the team mascot due to her feisty nature.
The little pup, named Xiaosa or ‘Little Sa’ made a big impression keeping up with the 60 km per day, over 12 mountain ranges, (some of which were over 14,000 m high) and outlasted some the cyclists (who opted for buses) to complete the rest of the trip. She also protected the cycling group from being attacked by other dogs, as well as keep up the group for the entire trip – no mean feat off the couch and on such little legs.
One of the cyclists started a blog about her exploits, which attracted over 40,000 people and comments, including other cyclists who had travelled the region who said they had also seen Xiaosa on their travels as well. The pup turned into a national celebrity. It was also great to hear that Xiaosa has since been adopted by one of the cyclists.
Either way, it is a great story about cycling trips and the friends you make along the way.
The best English speaking video I’ve found so far about this story is from the BBC, but the below video is a British version from youtube so it embeds into the blog easier – but it is interesting to see the change in facts from Chinese news report to British.
To see just how popular Xiaosa and ‘her’ bicycle trip became, Google her name and see the extensive list of news stories and posts about her. It is interesting to see how the story changed depending on what source you get it from – in some reports Xiaosa is male, in others the cycling trip was a bike race with 300 competitors and so on. I am certainly not the definitive source of accurate facts for this story, I am merely synthesising the most common reported facts here.