They say puppy love measures the infatuation between two people, but make no mistake, a puppy showed deep concern for his Siberian girl companion, leading rescuers to the lost tot, who had been missing for eleven days. The three-year-old girl, huddled in tall grass, was plucked to safety, ending a remarkable tale of survival and solidarity.
Writes the Toronto Sun on Aug. 12: “Karina Chikitova's mother thought the girl had gone with her father to his home village on July 29, but discovered four days later her daughter was missing. While lost, Chikitova survived on wild berries and river water in the remote Sakha Republic, which is roamed by bears and wolves.” Karina had followed her father into the woods, unbeknownst to the family.
Rescuers say Karina’s puppy – who has yet to be named – stayed by her side and kept her warm throughout the nights, snuggling up next to her and keeping a protective eye watching over her safety. After more than a week had gone by, the puppy returned home to summon help.
“Two days before we found Karina her puppy came back home,” said Afanasiy Nikolayev, a spokesperson for the Sakha Republic Rescue Service.
The rescuer spoke of seeing the small pup come wandering out of the woods, minus Karina:
That was the moment when our hearts sank, because we thought at least with her dog Karina had chances to survive; nights in Yakutia are cold and some areas have already gone into minus temperatures. If she was to hug her puppy, we thought, this would have given her a chance to stay warm during nights and survive. 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.
Those emotions quickly twisted to joy however, as the puppy excitedly started to lead search crews back into the woods. The rescuers, 100 strong, picked up traces of her footprints – Karina evidently had lost her shoes – and they eventually found her, wearing only a red undershirt and purple stockings, hiding in tall weeds.
Incredibly, other than being dehydrated and malnourished, Karina’s “injuries” were limited to scratches and mosquito bites. Karina beat the odds; experts said the chances of a three year old surviving under such conditions is almost nil.
“She doesn't want to speak about the time she spent in taiga (forest), or not yet. The only thing she said that she was eating berries and drank water from rivers,” rescuers said.
Nikolayev said: “I carried Karina myself to the car, and she was light as a bird. She weighed hardly ten kilograms – but amazingly she was fully conscious.”
Ekaterina Andreeva, a psychologist on the team, spoke of Karina’s mindset: “We can say that the girl's mind was not hurt. She is talking, she reacts normally to everything around her. She recalls what happened to her.”