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For eight-year-old Jonny Hickey, life as a kid on the autism spectrum can feel pretty isolating.
He’s always been a sweet boy, he’s just had a hard time bonding with anyone besides his immediate family, and even then, he’s had periods of introversion. He even had trouble bonding with the family’s two dogs and his mom and dad began to worry that he’d always feel lonely. Jonny could go for long periods of time without even speaking. But things were about to change!
At the same time not far from their home, a tiny pup named Xena was barely clinging to life. She was neglected and starved almost to the point of no return when she was picked up by rescuers at DeKalb County Animal Services.
One night, though, little Xena appeared on the local nightly news and her story touched thousands of hearts, including the heart of Jonny’s mom, Linda.
“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, who’s involved with the Animal Services team that cared for Xena.
Linda was immediately taken with the story of this tiny fighter who clung to life when it looked like all hope was lost. She headed over to Xena’s Facebook page, and checking in on the healing pooch became sort of a ritual every morning.
Before long, she just knew that she belonged with the Hickey family.
After the shelter decided that she’d be a great fit for them, they got to sign the papers and bring her home! Linda was so excited for everyone to meet the beautiful dog she’d grown to love. One introduction, however, left her totally stunned.
When Jonny met Xena, his entire demeanor changed.
The second he saw her, a huge smile was plastered on his face. The family watched in awe as the two formed an instantaneous bond. Over the next couple of days and weeks, that bond would only continue to grow.
His parents were understandably moved by and so grateful for the dog who helped him find his voice. “He is non-stop chatter now!” Linda explained. According to Mom, this is the happiest he’s been in eight years.
From day one, the two were inseparable and that’s how they are to this day!
Learn more about their incredible story of survival and friendship below and be sure to share it with everyone you know to spread more smiles.