A 3-year-old girl survives in the forest for nine days with the help of a puppy.

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Pets are great company and fill our lives with joy, but they can also save our lives in extreme situations. This is the story of Karina Chikitova and her puppy, who helped her survive.

In 2014, the girl’s mother, Talina Chikitova, travelled with her daughter to the small town of Olom in Russia to visit her mother.

Talina had separated from her husband, but on this occasion, he would take care of Karina while the mother and grandmother went to the fields to harvest. When they returned, the women realized that no one was in the house, but they did not worry.

Since her ex-husband lived in a neighbouring town, Talina believed he would have brought their daughter to visit with his relatives. In addition, since the towns were small, with only a couple of dozen inhabitants, communication with electronic devices was practically non-existent.

The woman did nothing to verify, and three days later, the father returned to Olom. However, he was not accompanied by his daughter. It turned out that when the little girl was sleeping, he just left.

Soon, the family assumed that Karina had woken up, and when she found herself alone, she left the house to look for them; but in the village, all the inhabitants were busy, and no one could see or help her. This way, the girl walked away from the village into the taiga.

The taiga, also called a coniferous forest, is a vegetated ecosystem in the north and around the world, bordering the tundra or polar region. Thus, the taiga is a freezing area that can reach temperatures of 31° below zero.

Realizing that Karina might be missing, the village organized a search party in the nearby settlements. Still, it was unsuccessful, and the theory that the little girl was in the cold forest became more plausible.

Professional rescuers soon arrived to venture into the taiga, but the chances of a three-year-old, or even an adult, surviving are slim. The cold at night, wild animals, mosquitoes and the lack of food and water are tough conditions to overcome.

After almost a week of searching, the volunteers and rescuers could only hope for a miracle. The groups covered an area of ​​30 kilometres and faced dangers, on one occasion having to scare away a bear. Hope was waning.

But on the ninth day, the miracle happened: a dog came running to Olom; he was malnourished, wet and exhausted. He had also been lost the same day as Karina, but his owners had not remembered him until that moment due to the shock.

A service dog followed the puppy’s trail and rescuers were eventually able to find Karina.

She was lying in the tall grass and could see a volunteer named Artyom Borisov, to whom she held out her hands. The man could not help but shed tears of joy at finding the little girl alive.

With many mosquito bites, Karina was taken to the hospital, where her recovery began. The girl explained that she survived by eating berries by drinking water and that her furry friend lay next to her to warm her up at night. Even the puppy protected her from other wild animals, and he did not separate from her.

They decided to call this puppy Nayda, whose name means “selfless”,; for the act that he saved Karina’s life.

The story moved many, and a year later, the sculptor Nikolai Chuchasov made a monument called “Girl and Dog”, which stands in front of the Yakutsk airport.

Karina is 11 years old and studies ballet at a private school; she occasionally travels to Olom to see her grandmother and her saviour, Nayda.

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