Xena the warrior puppy brings sparkle to a young autistic boy's life
Even when he was very little, the Hickey family was sure that something was wrong with their son Jonny. Sure enough, a diagnosis was soon made: Jonny was suffering from autism, a development disorder leading to difficulties in social situations.
Jonny lived in his own world. No one was able to get through to him, not even his own parents.
In September 2012, this poor creature was brought to an animal rescue station. She had been found in a pit on the street, shortly before collapse.
Vets determined that she was a Stafford Pit Bull mix and was only about four months old. The shocking malnourishment and countless wounds told a story of captivity and serious abuse.
The fragile puppy recovered under the tender care of the veterinarians. Her will to live flabbergasted everyone. Which is how she found her name: Xena, the warrior!
Xena’s condition stabilized quickly and she was on the way to living a normal life. All that she needed now was a loving family.
The animal shelter started a social media campaign on Facebook to tell Xena's story in order to find her a new home.
Slowly, Xena shed her fear of humans and became everybody’s darling. During an open house at the shelter, she met the Hickey Family.
And to everyone’s surprise, Xena and Jonny hit it off from the beginning. They even spent the whole day together.
His earlier fear of contact was forgotten almost immediately. He even let Xena lick his face, which would have been unimaginable before.
The family naturally adopted Xena on the spot. She and the once-shy Jonny built an unbreakable bond.
His parents were naturally overjoyed. His mother enthused, “Jonny had a limited vocabulary. But since Xena’s arrival his readiness to talk has almost exploded. Jonny is like a new person!”
In the meantime Jonny's personality has really blossomed; he even helped in an awareness campaign about changing perceptions of autism. He had a blast!
It's so good to see how the two have pepped each other up and given each other strength. Xena and Jonny have gone on to become real internet stars; Xena even won the ASPCA's Dog of the Year award in 2013!
Jonny and Xena have their own website, where they raise funds for good causes and keep up with their many fans. You can visit them here.