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Girl lost for 12 days in Siberian wilderness looks forward to Xmas with dog that saved her

By Anna Liesowska
10 December 2014

Brave Karina Chikitova hoping for a Barbie doll from Russian Santa, Ded Moroz.

Karina Chikitova, 4, with Naida - the dog that rescued her life. Picture: Anatoly Poluektov

The four year old girl survived almost two weeks alone in the taiga, kept safe by her dog Naida who warmed her at night - before eventually returning home to summon help. Her survival was miraculous, and Karina's story was read all round the world. 

After Naida's return home, rescuers redoubled their efforts and finally found Karina - hungry, exhausted and covered in mosquito bites - lying in a grassy hole.

When we went back to see her in the remote village of Kyachchi, the girl - who celebrates her fifth birthday on 26 December -  was suffering a winter cold and not allowed  to play outside in temperatures of  minus 29C. But as a treat Naida was allowed in from the yard to pose for their first picture together since their August ordeal.

As the festive season approaches, we are happy to salute this courageous girl and her heroic dog. Yet when she first came home after hospital treatment, Karina chided the pet who saved her. 'Why did you leave me?' she asked Naida. In fact, seeing the dog back in the village helped save her life. 

Girl lost for 12 days in Siberian wilderness looks forward to Xmas with dog that saved her


Girl lost for 12 days in Siberian wilderness looks forward to Xmas with dog that saved her


Girl lost for 12 days in Siberian wilderness looks forward to Xmas with dog that saved her


Girl lost for 12 days in Siberian wilderness looks forward to Xmas with dog that saved her


Girl lost for 12 days in Siberian wilderness looks forward to Xmas with dog that saved her


Girl lost for 12 days in Siberian wilderness looks forward to Xmas with dog that saved her
A sculpture of Karina and her dog will be erected at Yakutsk airport. Pictures: Sakha Republic Rescuers 


Naida's appearance after nine days gave rescuers hope that Karina was still alive, even though the dog was not able to retrace her steps back to the child. 

'Soon they will bring a Christmas tree in from the forest,' said Karina, excited about the coming festivities which will be celebrated - in Russian-style - at New Year.

'They'll put it inside the house and warm it up. And then I will decorate it with beautiful toys and candy wrappings. Then Ded Moroz will bring me a Barbie and a kitchen set, so I'll be playing with my friends.'

Before that, Karina has been invited to a festive party with the Head of Sakha Republic, also known as Yakutia, Yegor Borisov.

She will also undergo checks at a rehabilitation centre in regional capital Yakutsk, some 770 kilometres northeast of her remote village. 

Girl lost for 12 days in Siberian wilderness looks forward to Xmas with dog that saved her


Girl lost for 12 days in Siberian wilderness looks forward to Xmas with dog that saved her
Karina with mother Talina and Naida. Pictures: Anatoly Poluektov


Karina's grandmother Emma said her granddaughter survived because 'from an early age she got used to the harsh conditions of life in the taiga and is not scared of the forest'. 'And Naida helped too,' she added.

The grandmother thanked people - from as far afield as New Zealand - who saw her remarkable story in The Siberian Times and sent gifts to Karina. 

'We never thought we would find ourselves at the centre of the media attention. It was quite stressful,' she said. 'But it is incredibly heartwarming to realise that so many people know about us, talk about Karina, and even send presents! A huge thank you to everyone.'

Talina, 21, Karina's mother, said: 'We are soon to leave to Yakutsk where Karina will stay for a while at the rehabilitation centre.Then we will go straight to the party organised by the head of the Sakha Republic. After that we'll come back and will celebrate the New Year at home.

'We will be making a traditional Olivier salad (also known as Russian salad), and will also cook traditional Yakut dishes - fried carp and a dish called Khart, which is boiled innards of foal. There will also be a dessert called Kuorchekh, which is whipped cream with cranberries'.

Girl lost for 12 days in Siberian wilderness looks forward to Xmas with dog that saved her


Girl lost for 12 days in Siberian wilderness looks forward to Xmas with dog that saved her


Girl lost for 12 days in Siberian wilderness looks forward to Xmas with dog that saved her
Karina Chikitova, 4 at her grandmother's house in Yakutia. Pictures: Anatoly Poluektov


Karina got lost in the wilderness after following her father Rodion into the forest. His grandmother thought Rodion had taken her with him. But Rodion, on a trip to a remote village with little phone coverage, had not realised Karina was following. 

Karina and Naida - who stayed with her - became hopelessly lost in the forest. It took Talina, who had been in the fields gathering hay when her daughter went missing several days to reach Rodion and discover that she was lost. A huge search began in the Sakha Republic, the largest region in Russia, only slightly smaller than India. 

Karina drank water from rivers and ate berries, but when she was found, she was badly undernourished. 

Her doctor at the City Children's Hospital, in Yakutsk, Fedora Gogoleva, said: 'The family live far away in a remote village, not in the city, and it makes its mark. She was raised close to nature. Certainly she went with grandmother and parents to the forest, to gather berries. Perhaps this is why she was not afraid of the forest.

'Karina herself is a very strong girl, has a strong-willed character. This probably helped her to survive'.

Girl lost for 12 days in Siberian wilderness looks forward to Xmas with dog that saved her


Girl lost for 12 days in Siberian wilderness looks forward to Xmas with dog that saved her


Girl lost for 12 days in Siberian wilderness looks forward to Xmas with dog that saved her


Girl lost for 12 days in Siberian wilderness looks forward to Xmas with dog that saved her
Village of Kyachchi in Yakutia where Karina's grandmother live, and Russian Ded Moroz (Grandfather Frost). Pictures: Alexander Makharov, The Siberian Times


'The forest around Olom is full of bears,' said rescuer Albert Semyonov, who revealed his men needed armed guards in looking for Karina. 'Close to the gunners we felt somehow calmer. However, the thought of bears immediately switched to another concern: somewhere in the forest was this helpless child.'

The breakthrough came when rescuers found Karina's footprint on the bank of a river when she had gone to drink water.

Next to her print, was the paw mark of a dog. This gave rescuers hope they were in the right area, and next day found Karina.

The Siberian Times thanks Olyokma newspaper for co-operation on the Karina Chikitova story.

Comments (9)

=°o°= =°o°= =°o°= =°o°= =°o°= =°o°= =°o°= = °o°= =°o°= Happy birthday Karina ! =°o°= =°o°= =°o°= Beaucoup de bonheur dans ton beau pays =°o°= =°o°=
Jocelyne, Franjou
25/12/2014 21:15
0
0
=°o°= =°o°= =°o°= =°o°= =°o°= =°o°= =°o°=

= °o°= =°o°= Happy birthday Karina ! =°o°= =°o°=

=°o°= Beaucoup de bonheur dans ton beau pays =°o°=

=°o°=
Jocelyne, Franjou
25/12/2014 21:14
0
0
I want to send her présents for Christmas
Sam, Canada
25/12/2014 10:56
0
0
I am touched by the story. I look at the picture of Karina and Naida I feel so much love with them. I live in the United States of America ten thousand miles away from where you live I hope everything is O.K with you and Naida (the dog) and your family and Best Wishes and Very Happy Birthday
Binh Duong, Olympia Washington State USA
15/12/2014 08:09
5
0
Well done, Siberian Times, for keeping tags on this story & showing us how well Karina is doing & I see from the picture, Santa Claus is on the way to her. I hope she & her family has the best ever Christmas & I hope her dog Naida get the biggest juiciest bone in the neighbourhood for his faithfulness & love for her, when she was in great danger. Give her mine & the readers love & good wishes & to her Mother & Family our "Season's Greetings" as well.
Jaker, Dundalk
13/12/2014 23:19
5
0
I was an expert winter camper as a boy of 13. Winter camping trips approx -10 C in the Canadian province of Manitoba can be really really "chilly" ! I loved every minute of it.

This is a terrific story. I could learn a lot from this brave young lady. Her trusted dog and intelligent companion...a Prince of course!

Merry Christmas from the other land of snow and cold temperatures!
Michael Leader, Vancouver Canada
13/12/2014 08:00
4
0
Very happy to see little girl Karina with her young mother Talina. Naida is a wonderful dog. I love them and whole Karina's family and the rescuers for their good job! MERCI ! ^ ^
Jocelyne, FRANCE
12/12/2014 21:51
9
0
Truly a miracle. Wonderful dog, wonderful girl. Karina's survival skills are just unbelievable. Imagine, knowing how to get to the river so she could drink water. She was unafraid, did not panic and really had presence of mind. Her family really knows how to bring up a full-blooded Siberian girl: at one with nature. Kudos to everyone, especially those searchers who just did not give up even after serveral fruitless days. A happy ending that gladdens the heart during this Christmas season. Merry Christmas to all!
E. Espinosa, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
12/12/2014 21:42
1
0
Truly a miracle. Wonderful dog, wonderful girl. Karina's survival skills are just unbelievable. Imagine, knowing how to get to the river so she could drink water. She was unafraid, did not panic and really had presence of mind. Her family really knows how to bring up a full-blooded Siberian girl: at one with nature. Kudos to everyone, especially those searchers who just did not give up even after serveral fruitless days. A happy ending that gladdens the heart during this Christmas season.

Merry Christmas to all!
E. Espinosa, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada
12/12/2014 21:38
9
0
1

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