The ‘warrior puppy’ given a new life after it was found starved near to death… and went on to change the life of the autistic boy who’s now its best friend

 

  • 8-year-old autistic boy who barely spoke transformed into lively chatterbox when met companion Xena
  • Jonny Hickey spent his time playing marbles in silence now he sings while playing with beloved dog
  • Rescue puppy scarred and starved through abuse nicknamed Xena, warrior puppy after making miraculous recovery
  • Family from Georgia found dog on Facebook group, which now has 19,000 fans
  • Research proves companion animals have ‘calming presence’ on autistic children
  • Releasing video updates to support Autism Awareness and Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

By Sara Smyth

 

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WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

 

In just two months, the Staffordshire terrier mix has made Jonny Hickey ‘the happiest child that I’ve ever seen him be,’ according to his mother Linda.

Jonny, from John’s creek, Georgia, barely spoke before meeting Xena. He spent hours playing marbles on his own and was terrified of new experiences.

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Jonny Hickey, 8, is playful and bubbly when with his beloved dog Xena. His parents say he has become outgoing and sociable since he met his companion

Jonny Hickey, 8, is playful and bubbly when with his beloved dog Xena. His parents say he has become outgoing and sociable since he met his companion

 

Xena is said to have transformed Jonny's personality. The rescue dog was adopted by the Hickey family two months ago. She was being cared for by animal services at the time

Xena is said to have transformed Jonny’s personality. The rescue dog was adopted by the Hickey family two months ago. She was being cared for by animal services at the time

Xena had suffered from extreme neglect when she was found. Here, she weighs four pounds and is unable to stand

Xena had suffered from extreme neglect when she was found. Here, she weighs four pounds and is unable to stand

Xena fought for survival, earning her nickname Warrior Puppy. She was found unconscious but responded when given fluids and food. Cruelty charges are being investigated

Xena fought for survival, earning her nickname Warrior Puppy. She was found unconscious but responded when given fluids and food. Cruelty charges are being investigated

 

Jonny had had difficulty showing affection and was uncomfortable making eye contact. Since Xena has come into his life, he has become tactile and expressive. He cuddles and kisses the terrier

Jonny had had difficulty showing affection and was uncomfortable making eye contact. Since Xena has come into his life, he has become tactile and expressive. He cuddles and kisses the terrier

Xena, the rescue puppy, pictured recovering from her wounds. She was neglected and starved

Xena, the rescue puppy, pictured recovering from her wounds. She was neglected and starved

 

The pair have developed a special relationship since they met two months ago when the family adopted the puppy.

Since then, Jonny has transformed into an affectionate, happy boy who considers Xena his best friend.

Video footage of the pair shows Jonny singing You’ve Got a Friend In Me with Xena on his lap.

In another clip, he said that he and Xena make a ‘pretty perfect team’ and kisses the rescue puppy on the top of his head.

Mother-of-two 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 was brought to an animal shelter in Georgia at the end of last year after she collapsed in someone’s yard.

 

The four-month-old was scarred and emaciated after being dumped in a cage.

Staff at the DeKalb County Animal Services’ shelter in Georgia said Xena weighed four pounds and was close to death, according to Today.com.

Chrissy Kaczynski, from Animal Services said in 12 years of working with rescue dogs, Xena was one of the worst cases she had come across.

The puppy’s rapid recovery led to her nickname Xena the Warrior.

Mrs Hickey found the dog on her Facebook page and met her at a fundraising event last November.

She described the connection between Xena and her son as instantaneous.

Xena was dehydrated and emaciated when she was brought to animal services. She weighed just four pounds

Xena was dehydrated and emaciated when she was brought to animal services

Life has improved in the past few months for both Jonny and Xena, who are inseparable

Life has improved in the past few months for both Jonny and Xena, who are inseparable

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