In the Ukraine village of Nova Blagovishchenka in 1994, a wild child was found living with wild dogs. The local police had never dealt with feral humans before, so they had to use food to distract the hounds while they lured the young girl away from her dog friends.
Oxana Malaya, an eight-year-old local girl whose alcoholic parents had left her outside in the cold five years before, was finally found. Malaya had instinctively crawled into a dog kennel to get warm, and she lived there with the dogs for the next five years.
Malaya may have gone back to her old house for more food once in a while when the dogs’ leftovers were running low. But it’s clear that she lived mostly wild outside until the police were called.
Her connection to the pack of dogs was so strong that it was hard for police to break it. But it was even harder to bring Malaya back into society and teach her how to act like a human again.
Malaya was taken in by the state and put in a number of psychiatric hospitals and group homes. She stopped being able to talk for a while and kept walking on all fours. But Malaya was able to learn how to talk again because she had learned a few words when she was young.
At an orphanage school, Malaya was able to learn a broader range of words. She also learned how to stand up straight again and talk like other people, at least most of the time.
Malaya is in her late 30s, but she still needs to be watched at an adult care center. She probably won’t ever be fully independent. People also say that she talks in a flat, emotionless way, as if she’s being told to. But her bark is still as loud as ever, and the first thing she does when she gets something is hide it, just like a dog does with a bone.