By RYAN GORMAN
A three-year-old girl remarkably survived nearly two weeks in the Siberian wilderness because her dog took care of and then led rescuers to her.
Karina Chiktova went missing July 29 and had not been seen for weeks in the bear and wolf-infested forest where temperatures drop to near freezing at night even in the summer, according to reports.
The child survived on a diet of berries and river water with the only injuries to her somehow being mosquito bites and scratches on her feet, officials told the Siberian Times.
She was found by rescuers lying in a bed of tall grass that hid her from sight of searchers hovering above in helicopters, authorities said.
Dozens took part in the search led by the dog, named Kyrachaan after a word meaning "little one" in the Yakutian language spoken by locals, according to the paper.
Chiktova is believed to have gone missing last month when her father left their remote village to find work fighting brushfires in the Siberian taiga.
Her grandmother believed the child joined her father after not being able to find her July 29 after he left town. A lack of phone signals prevented her from reaching him until days later.
The grandmother called police when she found out the girl had not joined him, and a team of about 100 people searched by air and land until they found Chiktova in the field nearly 4 miles from home.
Special forces soldiers and expert hunters joined the search party as they came across many bears while looking for the missing girl, according to the paper.
Authorities believe that cuddling with the dog at night kept her from freezing to death, and perhaps also scared off any wolves or bears that may have attacked her.
"We were sure that the puppy was next to the little girl all this time, warming her at night and scaring away wild animals," rescuer Afanasiy Nikolayev told a local television station, according to NDTV.
The dog spent nine days with Chiktova before returning back to the village to look for help.
"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," Nikolayev told the Times. "Our hearts truly and deeply sank."
But the dog led rescuers to Chiktova, he explained. The girl was malnourished, but otherwise okay.
"I carried Karina myself to the car, and she was light as a bird. She was hardly ten kilograms (just over 20 pounds) - but amazingly she was fully conscious," said Nikolayev.
The young girl did not speak outside of saying what she survived on, according to the paper.
She is being cared for in a Moscow hospital and is expected to make a full recovery while authorities are looking into possible criminal neglect charges against her parents.
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