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Ukrainian Woman Claims She Was Raised by Stray Dogs

Oxana Malaya, a Ukrainian woman, was raised by stray dogs between the ages of three and nine. Malaya’s life took an extraordinary turn when her alcoholic parents left her outside in the cold in Nova Blahovishchenka, Ukraine. This harsh abandonment led Malaya to seek refuge and companionship with a pack of stray dogs — an experience that drastically altered her developmental path. Over the next five years, Malaya lived alongside these animals in a dog kennel, adopting their behaviors as her own.

Woman raised by stray dogs first gained international attention in 2006

Speaking to 60 Minutes Australia earlier, the now 40-year-old Malaya reflected on those years with a sense of resignation. Her integration into the pack was so complete that she began to lose her ability to speak, instead adopting the language of dogs. Studies, like one from August 2023 by the University of California, San Francisco, have emphasized how essential caregiver communication is for developing speech and social skills in children. The absence of such interaction in Malaya’s early years has left lasting impacts on her capabilities and mental development, akin to that of a 6-year-old, according to child psychologist Lyn Fry.

Malaya’s unique case, one of roughly 100 known instances of feral children, eventually caught the attention of Ukrainian authorities when she was 9 years old and had barked at a neighbor. Although the officials faced resistance from the protective pack while trying to rescue her, they were able to bring her to a special care institution — per New York Post.

Years later, Malaya sought to reconnect with her biological family, achieving a bittersweet reunion with her father and half-sister in 2006. Yet, this did not alleviate her deep-seated sense of isolation. It appears she still finds comfort in the behaviors she learned from her canine family, expressing lingering loneliness by resorting to walking on all fours. “When I feel lonely, I find myself doing anything I crawl on all fours. This is how lonely I feel,” she said, adding, “Because I have nobody, I spend my time with dogs, I go for walks and do anything I want to.”

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