They were like two lost ships in need of true direction. Jonny Hickey was an eight-year-old boy with autism who didn’t speak much at all. Xena was an emaciated, abused puppy who was so far gone that her rescuers doubted she would make it. Then Jonny and Xena’s paths crossed, and they changed each other’s lives forever.
Jonny was diagnosed with autism early in his life. Social interactions were hard to navigate for Jonny. He was comfortable around his family members, but most interactions with strange people and in new environments caused him to react in terror and withdraw into silence.
An officer rescued Xena after she collapsed in a backyard in Georgia. The puppy weighed four pounds, and her condition horrified rescue workers as well as shelter staff.
“I’ve been doing rescue probably for about 12 years, and I had never seen a dog that young in that sort of condition,” said Chrissy Kaczynski, the founding member of Canine Caravan Rescue, formerly Friends of Dekalb Animals rescue organization. “I brought her home with me and I didn’t think she’d make it through the night.”
Xena wasn’t ready to give up just yet.
With additional medical attention, she began to make a surprise recovery.
Jonny’s family went to a fundraising event where Xena made a special appearance. Without hesitation, Xena immediately found Jonny and his family. From that moment on there was an incredible bond of friendship.
Despite the fact that the family already owned two dogs, Jonny only opened up with Xena. These two are inseparable now Xena rides with him on the way to school every morning.
“From that very first day, that dog was sitting in his lap in the car seat, giving him all these kisses,” Linda Hickey said. “And that’s where she’s been ever since.”
With the help of Xena, Jonny has become more confident and his anxieties about new places and people have begun to diminish. There was a true purpose for Xena we are so proud of her and happy that she found a true friend in Jonny.
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