When Rodion Chikitova left on a journey to his native village he had no clue that two tiny feet and four paws followed him. Four-year-old Karina wanted to accompany her dad, but ended up lost in the Siberian woods instead. Luckily, her loyal pup Naida kept her safe and warm.
Assuming Rodion brought Karina along with him, her mother didn’t realize Karina was missing until she called him a few days later. Upon hearing the devastating news, a search began in the Sakha Republic, one of Siberia’s coldest regions.
Crews searched by land and air for five days, even having to fend off a bear at one point. Hope became slim that the girl would survive alone in those conditions. But she wasn’t alone. She had her loyal canine BFF with her.
After nine days, the dog returned to the girl’s village of Olom.
A spokesman for the Sakha Republic Rescue Service wasn’t sure this was a good sign.
Afanasiy Nikolayev told Life with Dogs TV:
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.
But he was right about one thing. Naida did keep her warm, but now he was on a bigger mission. He wanted to help rescue his friend. The pooch led searchers right to the young girl. She was hiding in tall grass, which made it hard for searchers to spot her from above.
The girl only weighed 22 pounds at the time of rescue, but she was fully conscious and only suffered from mosquito bites and a few scratches to her feet. She survived by eating berries, drinking water from streams, and of course, with the help of her dog.
We were sure that the puppy was next to the little girl all this time, warming her at night and scaring away wild animals.
Artist Nikolay Chochchasov was inspired by the pair and created a bronze sculpture in their likeness, which is now on display at the Yakutsk Airport. It serves as a reminder of the young girl’s strength and the amazing dog’s loyalty and honor.
Featured image and h/t via Life With Dogs