This Man Biked Across The Globe And Picked Up An Unexpected Companion Along The Way
Since the dawn of time, humans have always had an affinity for animals. For millenniums, we have learned to co-habit the Earth with them, living peacefully and harmoniously as separate species. In the process, we’ve even developed a strong camaraderie with some of them, bringing in dogs, cats, and other types of animals into our lives as pets. Our household pets add joy and happiness to our lives and often serve as great company, especially when we’re lonely. What better company than a pet when we’re all alone?
Knowing what we know about pets, it comes as no surprise that midway through one biker’s lonely cycling expedition across the world, he ended up picking up a companion along the way. Since then, the two have shared a lot together and are virtually inseparable, becoming the poster children of never-ending friendship and unconditional love. Keep reading to find out more!
How It All Began
When Dean Nicholson embarked on his journey touring Europe, he could have never imagined that he would have picked up a feline friend along the way. Actually, all he was concerned about was escaping his hometown. You see, many would think that Dean had it all going for him.
Apart from the fact that he had a regular 9-5 job working as a welder for a company in his local town of Dunbar, Scotland, he was also in good health. What’s more, he had youth on his side. What could have possibly spurred him to want to leave everything behind and go on a journey alone? What about his friends? Why did he just abandon everyone?
In Need of a Change
To the outside world, Dean seemed like he had had it all. What would have caused him to leave his entire life behind and go on a trip that led to nowhere in particular? Apparently, he was tired of the monotony of life. While he did have a job and was living reasonably well, for a while, Dean felt as if he had lost the joy and essence to life.
He wasn’t really living – he was just going through the motions. For him, life was meant to be enjoyed, and how he was living up to that point was anything but enjoyable. For that reason, he made it his business to travel, even if it meant doing something that would horrify most in today’s world …
In order to begin his quest, Dean had to make a very committal decision regarding his professional and working life – he had to quit his job. Might seem like an unbelievable thing to do to some people. In this world where jobs are few and far between, for someone to voluntarily quit his or her job without another job laying in wait is quite rare. But for Dean, it was necessary.
As far as he was concerned, he wasn’t happy and his happiness was everything to him. He was 31-years-old at the time – it was time for him to start living and enjoying life, even if it meant going without a job for a while. Still, that wasn’t the only difficult decision he had to make …
Leaving It All Behind
Leaving his job was just one difficult part in the multi-step process of moving from Dunbar – Dean also had to face the fact that he was giving up a lot more than financial security. You see, Dean had been living in Dunbar practically his entire life. There, he had friends and family and a general sense of familiarity. To leave all of that behind in search of possible happiness was a risky and tough decision.
Still, he was adamant – Dean was the kind of person who would stick to a plan, no matter what. He was determined to take his trip, even if there was just a shred of hope that he would find happiness. It was worth it, and that’s all that mattered. His mind was made up – all that was left was to execute.
Time To Say Goodbye
After some weeks of planning, the time finally came for Dean to bid farewell to what had been his home for 31 years. He departed work and wished his friends and family safety and good health as he was gone. Saying goodbye to everyone that he had known for so long was hard – these were the closest people to him. Credits: VisitScotland
Understandably so, everyone was taken aback by Dean’s decision to leave – no one could have seen it coming. Still, everyone supported him and wished him the best. Besides, there was nothing that they could have done to change his mind, so they might as well have let him go off on his journey. And speaking of journey, where was Dean headed to?
After bidding a touching farewell to his friends and family, Dean mounted his bike and left the town he had called home. For Dean, it wasn’t easy – regret and doubt began to flood his mind within seconds of riding away from his hometown. Was he making the right decision? Should he be doing this alone? What if something were to happen to him? Who would he contact?
Nonetheless, Dean kept peddling on – he had come this far, why turn back now? You only live once, after all – if he made it out alive, at least he’d have a story to tell. Besides, his first stop wasn’t that far – he was en route to Newcastle, just 200-miles away from his hometown. What was his master plan? Why did he want to stop in Newcastle?
Dean had made it his business to stop in Newcastle. Apart from the fact that it was relatively close to home, it allowed him a chance to breathe. Cycling for 200 miles is not an easy task – anyone would need a break, and Dean was no exception. Besides, the city was beautiful – why not take in some of that beauty while relaxing for a while?
But, that wasn’t the only reason that Dean decided to stop in Newcastle – he had bigger plans. There, he was hoping to catch a ferry to none other than Amsterdam, the capital city of the Netherlands. And he did just that – he decided to leave the United Kingdom and continue his travels to Amsterdam. What would lay in store for Dean there?
The Journey Continues
Even though Amsterdam was a beautiful city, Dean had no intentions of remaining there for too long. For him, Amsterdam was merely a transitioning point to continue on his journey to other countries. From Amsterdam, he cycled south-west, eventually passing through several countries, including Belgium, Greece, and Switzerland.
There, he took a ferry all the way to Bosnia from where he continued on, luckily picking up a friend along the way. How exactly was Dean feeling up to that point?
For the most part, Dean had been having a fabulous trip. Not only was he traveling and seeing the world, he felt sure in his decision and was happy about the way that he was handling things. He was also pretty certain that he wouldn’t have been happier at home anyway – that was the entire reason that he left in the first place.
He knew that he wanted a change and he was determined to get it. That said, during his cycling expedition, not all was a bed of roses for Dean.
In as much as Dean was thrilled about his new decision and the freedom that traveling alone afforded him, there were times when he felt a bit down and out. Traveling alone for an extended period of time can get to some people – sometimes, you can feel lonely, so much so that you long for some company to ease the pain of solitude.
Dean went through that – at times, he did feel as if he was all by himself in the vast unknown. He knew that he had made a risky decision, and for that, he began to wonder whether traveling alone was the right thing. Little did he know that soon, he would have had an encounter that would have affected his life for years to come.
An Unexpected Companion
The day that Dean met his lovely feline companion, he was traveling from Croatia to Bosnia. It seemed like a fairly normal day to him – he was cycling through, hoping to get to his next destination soon. While doing so, he took in the beautiful surroundings and nature.
That was a real plus about cycling across countries – in the process, he got to see the world and beautiful sites that he wouldn’t have seen in Dunbar. It during this leg of his European tour that Dean heard something that startled him – something that would prove to be the beginning of a wonderful bond.
A Furry Cry
While peddling up an incline, somehow, Dean was able to hear a strange sound from over the roar of his music playing. “I was going up a steep hill with my music blaring out of my speaker when I heard a desperate meow from behind me.” Puzzled and shocked, Dean stopped his bike and looked behind him.
There stood this tiny little feline looking longingly into Dean’s eyes, possibly for companionship. Dean couldn’t believe it – for so long, no one had really paid much attention to him. Now, something had finally noticed him. Even if it was a cat, he was still noticed. How would he proceed?
A Chance Encounter
Dean couldn’t believe it. While he knew that he could have come across some strange and unexpected creatures while cycling, never did he imagine stopping dead in his tracks because of a small house cat. It was just one of those things that he couldn’t have expected, so now that he was face-to-face with this new situation, he was stumped.
Given that it had called out to him, Dean figured that he should go over and caress its fur – after all, it probably wanted to feel the love of another. Having done his good deed for the day, Dean turned around and headed back to his bike to continue on his journey alone. Fortunately, the cat had other plans for him …
Stay With Me
Within seconds of Dean turning his back on the cat that had called out to him, he knew that it wasn’t going to be goodbye. The cat followed him like he was the long, lost friend that she had been looking for her entire life, almost as if there was this familiarity between them.
“When I clocked the kitten, I got off my bike to stroke her then that was it, she wouldn’t leave my side. She was a wee scrappy little thing and so far from anywhere,” he later explained in an interview. It was clear that the cat didn’t want Dean to leave without her. Would he oblige?
Dean had a difficult decision to make. Would he adopt his feline friend and take her on his journey, or would he leave her there? He had initially wanted solitude on this trip. For him, it was a way to clear his head and enjoy reconnecting with himself and his own happiness.
Still, he couldn’t leave the cat there – the way she looked in his eyes was enough for him to know that he had to bring her with him. So, he picked up the cat and continued on his journey.
Sure About His Decision
At first, Dean was a bit hesitant to bring the cat along with him. As he began his journey with his new-found friend, doubts and questions began to plague his mind. Why did he bring this cat along with him? Maybe it would have been better if he left her where he had found her?
Nonetheless, he allowed his better judgment to prevail and trusted in his gut. He knew that when he saw the cat, he couldn’t abandon her. “I wasn’t going to take her with me at first, but I soon fell in love with her and I couldn’t bring myself to leave her there alone.” He was sure about what he had done, and now, it was time to tour the world together!
Enjoying The Ride
Even though his new companion had shown Dean that she didn’t want to be left all alone in virtually the middle of nowhere, he was a bit on the fence as to whether she would stay that way during the journey. Cats are known to be a bit temperamental, so he expected her to show some of those characteristics while he was riding.
For all he knew, she mightn’t have enjoyed the cycling ride and would have probably wanted to abandon ship. But, his furry friend showed that she was definitely in it for the long haul – the two were having a blast together, almost as if they were destined to meet.
Destiny At Play
During the short time that they had spent together up to that point, Dean couldn’t help but wonder whether it was destiny that had made it so that he could have encountered this cat. It was true that he had had doubts about his trip – he was beginning to feel lonely, after all. What better way than for him to pick up a pet along the way?
It was like someone was reading his mind and at the right moment decided to send something his way to bless him on his journey. He was thankful and ready to continue on to the next chapter of his life with his new friend.
In as much as Dean was happy to have had a new companion, albeit a small one, he couldn’t help but notice the inconvenience that she had brought to him. As a cyclist traveling around Europe, going light was the best option. He had accumulated so many things by that time that he was cramped for space.
Therefore, finding space to fit his new friend was a bit of a challenge. How can you bring along a cat on a trip without having adequate space for it? Yet, there was something else that was a bit of a concern for Dean …
A Different Upbringing
Truth be told, Dean had a bit of another nagging feeling that kept him second-guessing on adopting his new-found cat. You see, Dean had never grown up around cats – his entire life, he had had dogs as pets. To him, dogs were really a man’s best friend – after so many years of being around them, he had grown accustomed to them.
Although cats were household pets as well, apart from the fact that they were moody creatures, he had also had no experience taking care of one before. He was unsure about how he would fare with a cat especially on the road.
Keeping The Faith
Still, despite his doubts, Dean kept the faith. He couldn’t turn his back on his cat, especially after the way she looked into his eyes. He felt that she needed him and that he, in turn, needed her.
For that reason, he wasn’t about to put her down and continue on his journey alone. He believed that he had met the cat for a specific reason and that she was going to bring him a lot of joy and happiness. Now that all was said and done, it was time to give his new friend a name.
Nala, The Lion King
Out of all the names to call his furry little friend, Dean decided to christen her Nala.’ What could have possibly been the inspiration behind such a fantastic name? His favorite childhood movie, of course! As a child, Dean was a huge fan of ‘The Lion King,’ so much so that he actually considers it to be his favorite film of all time.
When he met the cat, something about the way she behaved reminded him of the fearlessness and bravery of Nala. For that reason, he thought that it was right to name her that – cute, right?
Lean On Me
Apart from her bravery and fearlessness, there was another important characteristic which Dean was able to spot within moments of meeting her – loyalty. Dean knew that Nala was going to be a companion that was going to be around for a time. At the time, this was just what he needed.
Traveling alone can get lonely sometimes, so having a pet with him would have definitely lifted his spirits. This gave him all the more reason to believe that this was the work of a divine or force of nature. Just as he was having regrets, along comes Nala and gives him that shoulder that he can lean on when he’s down and out.
A Friendship That Will Last Forever
From the get-go, it was clear that Dean and Nala would soon develop a strong relationship as they toured Europe together. ‘We’ve been inseparable now for the past four months,’ he stated in one of his interviews. They were like two peas in a pod – wherever Dean went, Nala was sure to follow.
Dean was hell-bent on making Nala feel as comfortable as he could have possibly done. While it’s true that they were out on the open road, he wasn’t about to leave his cat out in the cold now, would he? So, for that reason, he made a few decisions which would ensure that the two would never be separated …
A Home Away From Home
In an effort to make his pet feel at home, Dean decided to invest in getting a carrier which could fit on the front of his bike. That way, his little friend could sit comfortably in her makeshift home while getting a front-row seat of the world.
While it wasn’t exactly ideal, it was what Dean could have done to make his pet feel comfortable during the journey. But that wasn’t the only thing that he did for Nala. He knew that traveling through different countries might have caused an issue for Nala. For that reason, he went and got something that would allow her to travel freely.
Traveling Without Borders
For Dean, Nala’s ability to travel freely was so important. How could they keep up their expeditions together if she weren’t given permission to travel to across country with him? For this, Dean decided to invest in getting Nala her very own pet passport.
This would enable Dean to bring her with him wherever he traveled. After filling out the relevant paperwork and applying, he was successful – Nala was granted a pet passport! Now, what was the next journey for these two?
Since meeting Dean, Nala has become a world traveler. She has been to both Albania and Greece with Dean, and there are several other countries waiting eagerly for her to leave her pawprints.
Funnily enough, Nala’s been to more countries than most people have! Can you believe it? The traveling cat who happened to be discovered by a cyclist is conquering Europe, one paw print at a time. How has she been enjoying the trip so far?
A Lover Of Travel
Based on a statement issued by Dean, it would seem that Nala really loves to travel! “Nala loves traveling and is super relaxed and chilled but she doesn’t like going over cobbles – this is where she jumps out the box and sits on my shoulders instead.”
Clearly, she’s not a fan of bumpy rides! Nonetheless, she does her best to keep calm, and whenever she feels a little scared, she would immediately look for Dean. It was as if he were her source of comfort during difficult times – she clung to him like Dean was her savior. They were definitely friends!
Documenting The Journey
Although Dean wanted to get away from the world for a while, it didn’t stop him from bringing his phone along with him! For him, it was important to remain connected to his friends and family. That way, if he ever found himself in an emergency, they were just one call or one text message away.
It gave him security and a sense of safety just in case something were to go wrong. He also took the opportunity to share with the world his traveling journey, often taking to social media platforms like Instagram to share his memories. Of course, when Nala came into the picture, she had to join in on the action as well!
Adoration From Many
Considering that Nala was now a part of Dean’s life, it was safe to say that he had to post pictures on his Instagram with her. He would often take snapshots of her riding on his bicycle or perched upon his shoulder getting a better view of whatever country they were in at the time. Needless to say, his posts of Nala attracted quite a bit of attention from his friends and Instagram followers.
They thought that his story was truly remarkable and praised his kind and generous spirit. Not many people would have taken a stray cat with them on a continent-wide trip, but he did, and for that, he deserved to be recognized. He also did something which would have warmed anyone’s heart.
Getting a Check-Up
Dean wanted to ensure that the cat didn’t have an owner. Cats have a tendency to run away from home for long periods of time, sometimes never returning. The thought of adopting a pet which already had an owner wasn’t something that Dean’s conscience would’ve let him do. Therefore, as soon as he could, he decided that it was time to get Nala checked by a veterinarian.
The first thing that they were looking for was a microchip – if she had one, that would mean that she had probably had an owner. Thankfully, she didn’t have one. Still, there were other more worrying things that plagued his mind about his dear Nala.
Was She Sick?
Ever since he picked up Nala, Dean was worried that she may not have been in the best of health. While it’s true that she didn’t look ill, the reality was that he had no way of knowing. He had literally picked her up in the middle of nowhere – he had no idea where she had been, nor did he know for sure whether she had gotten her shots.
For all he knew, she could have easily gotten an infection. Knowing this, he thought that it was the best time to get her tested. What would the results reveal?
While Dean was waiting for the reports from the vet’s testing, he was extremely nervous. If she had had an infection, it could have spelled quite a bit of trouble for them. Thankfully, when the reports came, Nala was given the all clear – she didn’t have any infections. She was a healthy cat, and for that, Dean was very happy.
Still, he didn’t want to take any chances – he got her vaccinated and had the veterinarian administer the relevant immunization shots that would protect her from any future illnesses. Sadly, despite the preventative measures he took, he and Nala would have had to take another trip to the veterinarian sooner rather than later.
A Rainy Day
At first, everything seemed to be going perfectly for Dean and Nala. Not only did they have a strong following on social media, but it seemed like they worked well together as a duo. Nala wasn’t particularly fussy and Dean liked that – they were there to support each other. Sadly, one day, something happened which caused a great deal of concern for Dean.
It was a very rainy afternoon when it happened. As usual, Dean was cycling with Nala in the front. However, because the rain was pouring so strongly, Nala ended up getting sick. Rushing to the hospital, Dean had no idea what could have possibly happened. When he got the diagnosis from the doctor, he was shocked.
A Chest Infection
When Dean found out what Nala had contracted, he was shocked – apparently, she had gotten a chest infection from being out in the rain. It came as a surprise to him as she had recently been vaccinated, so for that, he just assumed that it would have been a while until they would have had to go to the vet.
Still, he tried to be positive – it could have been worse, and thankfully, it wasn’t. Still, the two had to put their travels on hold for a while until Nala got better. What were they going to do?
For a while, Dean had to temporarily suspend any travel plans until such time as Nala’s health and strength came back. He didn’t want to put her under any unnecessary stress – traveling tends to do that.
Most importantly, he didn’t want to run the risk of having to cycle through another downpour with her. The last thing he would want is for her condition to worsen. As a result, he decided to lay low and wait things out. However, during that time, he also decided to do something else for his dear Nala …
During the period that Nala wasn’t well, Dean thought that it was better to be proactive by tapping into those who loved him and Nala the most – his followers on social media! His fans seemed to have had a vested interest in their lives and their travel plans. They loved the fact that he was touring with only a cat for company.
Therefore, he created a GoFundMe page for any of his fans who were able to make a donation or a contribution towards his future trips. At first, he was on the fence as to whether he would have accumulated any funds, but he soon got the surprise of his life!
A Support System
To his pleasant surprise and shock, Dean saw quite a bit of money being donated to his cause. From the time that he opened his GoFundMe page, he has accumulated in excess of USD$10,000.00 and counting. He couldn’t believe it.
He knew that he had quite a lot of people who supported him and who wanted to see him and Nala continue on their journey together. Still, to have received this amount of overwhelming financial support was something that he could have never imagined. He was grateful for the support and thankful to his fans for the love they showed to both him and Nala.
What Are They Up To Now
Since they joined forces, Dean and Nala have done a lot together. Apart from traveling by land, Nala has even made the transition to traveling on the open seas. Dean decided to try his hand at kayaking, and of course, he had to bring his precious Nala along with him. She fared well – she didn’t flinch, nor did she show any signs of discomfort.
The two continue to do a lot of traveling together and still have an active GoFundMe page where they receive donations. Dean is thankful that so many people support him. But more than that, he’s thankful for something else …
A True Friendship
Most of all, Dean was happy that he had a platform to show what one act of kindness could do not just for another, but also for yourself. Nala came into his life and proved that company can come in all shapes and sizes. It didn’t matter whether they could actually verbally communicate or not – she brought him happiness and filled his life with companionship.
Similarly, Dean brought Nala happiness – he gave her a home and most of all, company. He did everything with love, something which he felt that in Nala’s little feline ways, she understood and appreciated He hopes that people are inspired by his story and would consider getting a pet as they can bring a lot of joy to your life (if you don’t have one already, that is!)