Karina Chikitova's puppy has been getting lots of attention since it led rescuers to the woods where she was lost. But the real hero here is Karina herself, who is three years old and survived for 11 days in a part of the Siberian wilderness where bears and wolves are known to roam.
On July 29, Karina and Kyrachaan ("puppy" or "little one"), as many call the dog, were with her father at their home village in Russia's Yakutia, part of the remote Sakha Republic. The Siberian Times reports that the girl's father didn't realize that Karina and the puppy had followed him into the wilderness after he left to fight a forest fire. Her parents realized she was missing four days later, but high grasses made an aerial search impossible.
Meanwhile, Karina and Kyrachaan lived on berries and water, sleeping in a bed she made of grasses. Rescuers believe the two were able to cuddle for warmth: "Nights in Yakutia are cold, and some areas have already gone into minus temperatures," Afanasiy Nikolayev, spokesperson for the Sakha Republic Rescue Service, told the Siberian Times. After nine days, the dog returned to Karina's home village of Olom and guided rescuers right to her.
Like many three-year-olds, Karina is afraid of the dark, and she suffered bad insect bites in the forest (she's currently recovering at a hospital). But she barely cried after her rescue, and a psychologist who spoke with her said, "The girl is very strong, very resilient."
She's unquestionably our new hero. And, yes, in another parallel to the Balto story, Karina and Kyrachaan will be memorialized in a statue at the local SC Yakutsk Airport.