Friday, November 29, 2013

Abused "Warrior" Puppy and Boy with Autism Make Perfect Team

For the past few days, I've been debating whether or not to write about Black Friday, but then I thought, we already have a Black Friday post, and I'm actually pretty tired of the whole post-Thanksgiving shenanigans. Instead I bring to you an absolutely heartwarming story to make you feel happy to be a reasonable human instead of a bumbling bargain beast. Be it known I rarely call things “absolutely heartwarming” and actually mean it. This time, I mean it. I only hope I can relay to you the fuzzies this story gave to me.

This is Jonny Hickey before he met Xena:

And this is Xena before she met Jonny:

Jonny is an eight year old Georgia boy who has autism. Although Jonny can speak and read proficiently, he spent most of his life quiet and isolated, choosing solitary activities like playing with marbles over often painful social interactions.

Xena was a severely neglected puppy who was brought into DeKalb County Animal Services shelter in Georgia after collapsing from weakness in somebody's yard. She weighed four pounds and seemed unlikely to survive the night. However, with vet visits, nutritional supplements, and fluids, she pulled through and was named Xena the Warrior Puppy. A Facebook page was made in her honor, which is how Linda Hickey, Jonny's mom, found the dog that would change her son's life.

When Xena was strong enough, she made an appearance at a Friends of DeKalb Animals fundraising event, and Linda took her family to meet the puppy she had already fallen in love with on the internet.

“We were literally there for four minutes,” Hickey tells, “and Xena ran right up to Jonny and my husband.”

They adopted Xena soon after.

During their first trial day with the new puppy, Linda brought Xena with her to pick Jonny up from school. She instantly smothered him with kisses and unconditional affection and took her place sitting on Jonny's lap. “That's where she's been ever since.”

This is Jonny and Xena now that they've found each other.

Since Jonny met Xena, he has been his happiest. He is talkative, playful, and engaged, and he loves to sing and tell his family about the things he did in school on a given day. With Xena's help, Jonny's personal space issues have improved; Xena can usually be found leaning, sitting, or lying on Jonny. Even though they weigh nearly the same, Jonny seems to really appreciate the contact.

Since Xena met Jonny, she has gained her health and a needed friend who reciprocates her unconditional love. She was also recently named ASPCA Dog of the Year.

They are, as Jonny says, the perfect team.

Life-changing friendships...definitely something to be thankful for.  


  1. Well, that one made me cry...thanks for posting!