Dogs are considered as man’s best friend, and their loyalty means they can stick through thin and thick with you. In the case of four-year-old Karina Chikitova, she survived the dangerous wilderness of Siberia with only her Alsatian puppy Naida accompanying her for almost two weeks. Their story became one of the most amazing survival stories in recent history wherein a child is kept alive through the help of a dog.
When Karina and Naida got lost
On July 29, 2014, Rodion Chikitova embarked on a trip to the remote wilds near Olom Village in the Sakha Republic, Russia. It was probably not unusual for him to leave for a few hours to travel, but Karina followed him to the woods. She went out with their puppy Naida, who accompanied her. Her father had no idea that she was following him. And soon enough, she was lost. The child and dog pair was left helpless in the wolf- and bear-infested forest.
Karina’s mother, Talina, thought that Rodion brought her along. It was only when they spoke on the phone a few days later that their worst fears were realized.
The Siberian wilderness is chilly, vast, and treacherous. It’s a dangerous place even for fit adults. Naida and Karina were stuck, facing the sheer brutality of the cold climate, while the carnivorous wildlife doesn’t help. The chilling temperatures and ruthless weather can be fatal for unsuspecting wanderers, and it becomes even more unsafe for small children. But the amazing thing is Karina endured – not just for hours, but for 12 days and 12 nights. The presence of her puppy Naida was a big help, as the dog helped keep her warm by sleeping close together. They cozied up in a bed of grass during the freezing nighttime. They survived by eating small berries and by drinking water from nearby rivers.
Back in the village, rescue teams had assembled and looked for days upon days for Karina, but they did not see any sign of her. Crews searched via air and land, while some men on land were even forced to fend off a bear. Chances of finding the little girl and the puppy alive were getting slimmer and slimmer.
The family was deeply devastated, but Karina’s mother did not lose hope, not even for a second. She always believed that her little girl would be found, even though many people already think that she’s dead.
When Naida had a brilliant idea
After nine days, Karina was struggling to survive. She was scared, yet she could only be grateful for her loyal friend who stayed by her side in the wilderness. It was Naida who gave her strength and helped her survive for that long. But suddenly, Naida had an idea. The pup walked away and left Karina completely alone to head back to town. Karina became more afraid than ever.
Naida found her way back, and when she finally reached Olom, she alerted the rescuers to let them know that Karina was still alive. Naida effectively raised the alarm, and rescue efforts were continued.
The family’s heart sank after seeing Naida. That’s when the moment when they thought that Karina had chances to survive, even if it was very slim. They knew that if Naida was there, being hugged by Karina, this would give her a chance to stay warm during the brutally chilly nights. Their hope was renewed.
Karina was finally found
Naida did all that she could to lead the rescue team to Karina’s location, but she was unable to find the exact spot again. Still, the heroic dog indicated the scope of the area to focus on the search. Also, rescuers found Karina’s footprint next to a paw print close to a river, where they drank water. So they knew they were in the right spot. After three days, a rescuer named Artyom Borisov found Karina curled up in an overgrown grassy field. The little girl was hiding there, keeping herself from danger, and doing her best to keep herself warm. Because she was hiding out in tall grass, it became hard for her to be spotted from above.
When she was found, Artyom said that she was sitting deep, completely silent. He actually didn’t notice her, the little girl saw her and stretched her arms forward. He immediately picked her up, and she was so light. She only weighed 10 kilograms, yet amazingly fully conscious. Karina straight away asked for water and food and burst into tears. The rescue team got her tea and rushed her to the doctors, as her face, legs, and arms were bitten to blood, and she was dangerously skinny.
Karina was very fortunate to have only suffered from mosquito bites and a few scratches. And before the incident, Karina went with her grandmother and parents to the forest to gather berries. That is why she knows what to eat and why she wasn’t afraid of the forest. She was a strong girl with a strong-willed character. She became known as the “Mowgli” girl for having survived the taiga where wolves and bears roam around.
Karina was subjected to five weeks of hospital treatment after her ordeal. After reuniting with her dog, the child’s first words were, “Why did you leave me?”
But later on, Karina heartwarmingly expressed, “It was Naida who rescued me. I was really, really scared. But when we were going to sleep, I hugged her, and together we were warm.” Seeing the dog back in the village helped save her life and be rescued. Naida’s sudden appearance after nine days gave everyone hope that the little girl was still alive.
Recognition and support
The amazing story of how an unlikely duo of a little girl and her puppy survived for 12 days in the unforgiving wilderness in Siberia spread like wildfire, not only in Russia but also in other countries of the world. Karina’s grandmother thanked people who saw her granddaughter’s story in The Siberian Times and sent gifts. The family was overwhelmed with all the media attention, but for them, it was also heartwarming to realize that people knew about them and even sent presents for the little girl.
About a year later, after the incident, the Yakutsk Airport in Russia unveiled a statue to honor the admirable story of Karina and Naida, which captivated the world. The bronze sculpture was called “Girl with Dog,” and it erected to showcase the love of life, endurance, and resilience of the little Yakut girl and the devotion of her puppy. The statue was made by Nikolay Chochchasov.
Without Naida, Karina’s chances of survival would be slim to none. It was the dog who kept her warm to beat the cold, and it was also Naida who made a way for the child to get home and be reunited with her family. Having a pet dog really pays, from giving happiness, security, and companionship, to even saving you during life and death situations.