Discuss as:

Stray dog follows bikers over 1,100 miles to Tibet

In China, a homeless dog latched onto a group of cyclists and the plucky canine ran along with them for their 24-day ride. The cyclists embraced their energetic, little companion, feeding it along the way.

BEIJING – A stray dog has become China’s newest celebrity after latching onto a group of cyclists and traveling more than 1,100 miles over at least 12 mountains, some as high as 13,000 feet, in China’s southwestern Tibetan Plateau.

The homeless dog, nicknamed Xiao Sa, finished her 24-day journey from China’s Sichuan Province to Lhasa, Tibet on May 24.

“At first we didn’t think about adopting her at all,” said 22-year-old cyclist and college student Xiao Yong in an interview with China Central TV. “But we were shocked by her perseverance. She followed us [from Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province] to Litang [a town in Sichuan province with a 2.6 mile altitude]. We then decided to make a cage for her when we had a steep road going downhill.”

The long march began with a chicken leg Xiao Yong tossed to the puppy when he started his bike ride in early May. The little mutt followed the cyclist team after that and became part of the cycling group.

They came up with the nickname “Xiao Sa” by combining the term “xiao,” which means “little,” with the last syllable of Lhasa, the administrative capital of Tibet and the cyclists final destination.

“She once ran 37 miles in one day, going uphill. We were very impressed by Xiao Sa’s persistence, that inspired us all the way till our destination, the Potala Palace [in Lhasa, Tibet],” said Xiao Yong. “I’ll take Xiao Sa back home. I think she’s taking me as her owner now.”

Lu Bo, another team member, said the little white fur-ball was an inspiration to the whole team. The dog “made us so happy. Once a few of our team members lagged behind, she ran from hill top to the bottom, to bring these guys to the rest of the team. She injected power into us,” said Lu. 

She is now with her new owner, Xiao Yong, in Wuhan, capital city of the southern Hubei province.

And like a true celebrity, Xiao Sa has even opened her own Weibo account, China’s most popular Twitter-like service. It is called “GoGoXiaoSa,” where fans can check out her latest photos and whereabouts. And she already has over 82,000 followers.

More world news from msnbc.com and NBC News:

Follow us on Twitter: @msnbc_world