A man who was raised by dogs as a child has spoken of how the stray animals on the street saved his life.
Ivan Mishukov, now 27, was rescued at the age of five after two years in which the animals were his “only family”.
Each morning the feral tot went with the dogs to beg for food from a local bakery in Reutov near Moscow.
His story became known around the world when he was found.
Now Ivan – also called Vanya – has spoken of the debt he owed the strays.
While usually trying to avoid talking about that grim period of his life, and now earning his own living with a factory job, he admitted: “I understand that if it wasn't for those dogs I wouldn't have survived in the street.
“But I am also grateful to policemen who took me from the pack, and of course to my foster mum who raised me.”
Ivan was living with an alcoholic grandfather who abandoned him for days on end and he turned to the strays for solace – and food.
It took police three attempts to prise the boy away from the dogs because the strays refused to let humans come close to "their child".
"I loved the dogs and they loved me," he told social workers after he was rescued.
The dogs were named Jesse, Goga, Masha and Seva – and when the animals scavenged food they shared it with him, and vice versa.
They “kept me warm” on icy nights when he cuddled up to them, he revealed.
"They gave me a lick on the face – that's how dogs give kisses," he explained as a child in the grim orphanage near Moscow where he was dumped by the social workers.
Incredibly, his beloved dogs sensed his location and waited in vain for him at the institution's gate.
Later they were destroyed on the orders of cruel officials.
Ivan was later raised by caring foster mother Tatiana Babanina and he recovered enough to gain entry to prestigious Kronshtadt naval cadet school where he once paraded in front of Russian president Vladimir Putin.
He had hoped for a career in the FSB security service but instead returned to Reutov – where he had earlier lived with the dogs – and now works as an operator at a factory.
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