The cyclists, on a 1000-mile (1600-kilometre) expedition from Chengdu to Lhasa, came across the small white mongrel in the mountains around Yajiang, a Tibetan area of Sichuan, five days after starting out.
One of the riders, 22-year-old Xiao Yong, tossed the dog a chicken drumstick. To his surprise, it began to follow them – and stayed the course for 20 days to become a sensation in China.
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The dog – since named Xiao Sa, or Little Sa – climbed 12 mountains higher than 13,000ft, and stuck with the group during heavy storms. Indeed, as cyclist after cyclist dropped out, exhausted by the steep mountains and the thin air of the Tibetan plateau, the dog kept him and his colleagues going, said Mr Xiao.
“There was one day when we climbed the 14,700ft-tall peak of Anjiala mountain,” he said.
“We did more than 40 miles uphill and at the end I had to get off my bike and push. The dog ran ahead of me and stopped at a crossroads.
“She waited for a while, but got bored because I took so long, so ran back, put her paws on my calves, and started licking me.”
He said the dog had enough energy to run with the cyclists for at least 30 to 40 miles a day, although he would occasionally carry it in a box on the back of his bike. At night, Xiao Sa slept on the cyclists’ raincoats – and would share in their rations, being fed custard tarts, boiled eggs and sausages.
There were some fierce encounters with other dogs along the way. “Once, a large dog started chasing us along a series of dark tunnels and his barking drew a whole pack of others,” said Mr Xiao.
“I put Xiao Sa on my bike and started peddling desperately.
“One of my bags was ripped, but otherwise we got away.” …
This reminds me of the story not long ago that our species may have won against Neanderthal Man due to our ability to form hunting relationships with wild dogs.
Man’s relationship with his best friend has lasted 32,000 years, with cave-dwelling hunter-gatherers using dogs to carry supplies so that they could save their energy for hunting.
The bond between man and dog arose at around the time Neanderthals began to surrender their dominance over Europe, which had lasted for the previous 250,000 years.
Now experts have suggested the domestication of dogs, and the benefit it gave to their masters, could have played a key rule in the demise of the Neanderthals and supremacy of humans.
Excavations of early human dwellings suggest the animals were revered by our ancestors, with their teeth adorning jewellery and their images occasionally painted on walls, the Daily Mail reported.
Dogs, which at the time would have been at least the size of German Shepherds, could have helped humans by transporting meat and other supplies from one place to another, removing an energy burden from their masters which would have given them an advantage when hunting. … – link