The Dog Girl

After doing some research on feral children (many of which were hoaxes or sitings that were undocumented), I found a story of a girl who was raised by dogs. Her name is Oxana Malaya, otherwise known as Dog Girl, and as a three-year-old, she was left to live outside by her alcoholic parents. She found shelter with a pack of wild dogs and lived with them on a rundown farm in a village in Ukraine. And over the next 5 years Oxana developed mannerisms of a dog, and lost all human social interaction. When she was found at the age of 8 in 1992, she could hardly speak, and “humans were no longer her species: all meaningful life was contained in a kennel”.

This raises the question: What really makes us human? Some say it’s language and our social interactions. According to this video, Oxana was born healthy and without any abnormities. But the now adult Oxana rather take walks “by herself in the woods” when she’s upset. The lack of human interactions had wired the sense of independence into Oxana, but is that powerful enough to override the desire to interact with others, which is a quality that supposedly defines humans? There have been many accounts of people who can’t contain bottled up emotions, but is that still the case when a person is brought up with no one to turn to? It is really hard to clearly say which qualities we have are in our genes, and which are results of the society we created.

Oxana’s case also shows that humans are very flexible in adapting to their surroundings in order to survive. She had developed very acute senses of sight, taste, and smell, and can eat raw meat and food scraps lying around without getting sick. Another feral child named Memmie Le Blanc, found in France in the 1700′s, was able to outrun rabbits and skin them with her hands. This shows that humans are not helpless in the wild; it’s just that society has so much for us to depend on that nature seems harsh in contrast. Nature has everything we need to survive: food, water, shelter. But because we grow up in an environment filled with technology, we lose the ability to acquire those things ourselves. Although human babies need much more nurturing than any other kind of animal, once we get past that threshold, we are not innately different from wild animals on terms of survival skills.

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One response to “The Dog Girl

  1. To me this brings up the question of nature vs. nurture. Heavily debated and never answered, we have always wondered what makes us who we are. The tendency seems to be to lean to the nature side. “Oh, don’t worry, it’s human nature to do that.” But why has that become almost a cliche thing to think. I think that the problem is that people confuse human nature with current human society. This girl is overwhelming evidence to me that people are the way they are because of the way they were nurtered and raised. The most ridiculous aspect of a story like George of the Jungle is not his interactions and relationships with the animals, it the humanization of George. Without the nurture it is impossible. George is not born with any human nature in him, it has to be socialized into him as he is raised in human society, thoroughly absorbing human culture.

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