Little girl survives 12 days in wilderness with help of dog

On July 27, 2014, four-year-old Karina Chikitova, along with her puppy, Naida, followed her father as he traveled to a distant village.

Karina’s mother, Talina thought nothing of it because she believed Karina’s father, Rodion, knew his daughter was with him.

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Four days later, Talina talked to her husband through phone and found out that Karina was not with him. She was officially missing.

She immediately sought the help of her neighbors and the people in her village to look for her missing daughter and dog.

Everyone who was willing and able helped look for the little girl. They searched everywhere, including the massive Siberian forest.

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It was already four to five days since little Karina has been gone from their home. And the search party was also worried that they might not find her alive. The forest, after all, was full of bears and wolves.

On top of that, Sakha Republic, where they live, is Siberia’s coldest region during the winter season. This time of year, the nighttime temperatures go down to almost zero, around 6º Celsius (42º Fahrenheit).

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Five days into the search, Naida, her dog, returned to their home without Karina.

“That was the moment when our hearts sank… We thought, at least with her dog, Karina had chances to survive – night in Yakutia are cold and some areas have already gone into minus temperatures. If she was to hug her puppy… this would have given her a chance to stay warm during nights and survive,” Afanasiy Nikolayev, spokesman for the Sakha Republic Rescue Service, said. “So when her dog came back we thought ‘that’s it’ – even if she was alive – and chances were slim – now she would have definitely have lost all hopes. Our hearts truly and deeply sank.”

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But that wasn’t Naida’s intention when she came back.

She had actually come back so she can guide the rescuers to where Karina was.

Two days after Naida came back, the rescuers found Karina. She was hidden amongst the tall grass in the forest, which was common in that area of Southwest Sakha. No wonder the helicopters and drones did not find Karina when they searched the area.

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“We saw Karina sitting in the grass [and] rushed to her, got her a little tea and grabbed her to run back to the car and doctors,” Afanasiy Nikolayev recounted the story.

And the best part about this story, Karina was alive and well.

She was definitely thinner since she did live off of only berries and water during those 11 days.

Her mother said she weighed less than ten kilos (22lbs). And the only injuries she got were mosquito bites.

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Ekaterina Andreeva, a psychologist, was also part of the search and rescue team.

“We can say that the girl’s mind was not hurt. She is talking, she reacts normally to everything around her,” Ekaterina said. “She recalls what happened to her.”

Five years after this story broke out, Karina is now an eight-year-old girl studying to become a ballerina. She is hundreds of miles away from home but her parents know where she is, either at the school or living with her legal guardian.

Her ballet teacher, Dariya Ivanova, believes she has a chance to become a professional dancer.

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Karina is working and studying hard to make her ballerina dreams come true, even if it meant being away from her mother, her family, and her dog.

Her rescue became such a good story of hope that it became the subject of a children’s book in Russia. And the city also erected a statue of her and Naida at the Yakutsk airport, where every visitor to the city will be able to see it.

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Watch the video below of the moment when the search and rescue team found Karina. Turn on the Closed Captions option (Auto-translate to English) to understand what was happening.

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Source: NEC Saha