This is a story of not just any boy and not just any dog: An eight-year-old autistic boy spent his days alone, playing by himself, until the family adopted a pup that was rescued from the brink of death. Following is just the beginning of a miraculous journey!
Jonny Hickey was an extremely awkward and quiet child who hated to communicate with anybody. He could barely speak. He would spend hours playing alone with his marbles and dreaded any kind of new experiences.
Xena was a severely abused dog being taken care of by rescuers when Jonny’s family decided to adopt this pitiable soul.
Just two months after Xena came into his life, Jonny transformed completely. He is now extremely happy, cheerful, and playful when he is with his new friend. The parents have noticed that he is a lot more social now.
Johny now says that he and Xena make a “pretty perfect team” and kisses the puppy on the top of her head.
Just a couple of months before Xena was taken into Jonny’s world, the poor pup was brought to the DeKalb County Animal Services’ shelter in Georgia after she collapsed in someone’s yard. When staff members saw her, they recoiled in shock. “I’ve been doing rescue probably for about 12 years, and I had never seen a dog that young in that sort of condition,” Chrissy Kaczynski, who works for Animal Services and is a founding member of the rescue group Friends of DeKalb Animals, told TODAY.com. “I brought her home with me and I didn’t think she’d make it through the night.” “She was completely dehydrated and her nose was all scabbed over … like she had been trying to escape something,” Kaczynski said.
In the photo below, Xena is seen recovering and surrounded by the food and medicine that pulled her back from the brink of death. With ample food, fluids, and loads of love, the pup found the strength to fight for her life, earning her nickname “Warrior Puppy.”
Being autistic, Johny had faced difficulty interacting and expressing himself. He used to be uncomfortable making eye contact with people. But ever since Xena came into his life, he has changed dramatically. His mother noticed that he now readily cuddles and kisses the terrier, and has become more tactile and expressive.
Both Jonny and Xena are now an inseparable pair as they fill each other’s lives with loads of love. Xena is now his best friend. His mother, Linda Hickey, 44, said in an interview with Today.com: “These two were destined to be together, to save each other at a level that humans just can’t understand.” “From the very first day, that dog was sitting in his lap in the car seat, giving him all these kisses. And that’s where she’s been ever since,” she said. The part-time preschool teacher said her son now chatters non-stop, telling her about his day at school.
Xena – the Warrior Puppy has found a very happy home with Linda, 44, her husband Grant, 50, and Jonny of course! The Hickey family say they can’t imagine life without their new pet.
Regular picture updates on Xena’s Facebook group show there is an abundance of love and affection in the Hickey household.
Jonny has learned to express love.
Research on the effects of companion animals on children with autism spectrum disorder shows they are more likely to talk and laugh in the presence of guinea pigs than in the presence of toys. The Autism Service Dogs of America pairs children with specially trained animals that have a calming effect on these children.
“Well, my Xena was hurt really bad by some not-so-nice people. And I have autism. So I think we make a pretty perfect team to spread the words to be nice to animals, and nice to kids like me,” Jonny says in the CNN video below!
The story of the amazing bond between a little boy and his dog indeed testifies that love needs no language.
Watch the CNN video below:
The original version of this story was published on TODAY.com.