Oxana Malaya, the woman who was ‘raised by dogs’, still lives with the consequences to this day.
The story of a woman who was abandoned by her parents and raised by dogs is breaking the internet’s heart.
Not only is the story shocking and tragic, but it also offers us valuable insight into how our earliest moments of life can impact us forever.
Malaya is still living with the consequences of her bizarre and frightening childhood.
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Malaya’s story is cited as major evidence that nurture plays a larger role than nature – especially when it comes to language development.
Born in the Ukrainian SSR in 1983, she’s one of the most famous examples of a so-called ‘feral child’.
Malaya’s medical records reportedly show her to have been a normal child when she was born.
Neglected from birth, her alcoholic parents failed to notice that she’d been left outside her home one night.
Instinctively, Malaya crawled into the warmest space she could find – a dog’s kennel.
From then on, Malaya spent the majority of her time with dogs and began to imitate canine behaviour.
All of her meaningful relationships were with dogs, rather than humans.
Her lifestyle continued in this way until a neighbour informed social services that a local girl was being raised by dogs.
When Malaya was discovered by authorities, she could not speak and lacked many basic skills.
Malaya behaved more like a dog than like a human, walking all fours, barking, sleeping on the floor, alongside eating and managing her hygiene like a dog.
Following this grim discovery, Malaya was removed from her parents’ custody.
She reportedly spent many years in a foster home for mentally disabled children in Barabol, where she received years of therapy and education to address her behavioural, social and educational issues.
However, because Malaya had missed the chance to learn to speak before she turned five, she really struggled with language acquisition, as her brain was apparently underdeveloped.
Malaya has since been taught to suppress her canine instincts, and can now speak intelligibly – although not to a normal standard.
Medical professionals have commented that the fact Malaya has gained any speech at all is remarkable, and believe she must have had some understanding of language before she left her home and began living as a dog.
She reportedly remains intellectually disabled, and doctors do not believe she will ever fully integrate into everyday society.
In a Russian television special, Malaya explained that she currently lives on a farm and cares for animals for a living.
She said she wishes to be treated like a normal human being and is offended by nicknames such as ‘dog girl’.
At the time, Malaya revealed that she had a boyfriend, and wanted to build a close relationship with her brothers.
She also wished to reunite with her biological mother in the future.
“I want to see them with my own eyes so desperately because I have been told I have no parents, but actually I do have them,” Malaya said.