The beautiful bond between a little boy and a miracle dog
Jonny Hickey was quiet.
He’d spend hours alone playing with marbles and avoiding communication.
His family adopting a pup rescued from near death, however, has had a profound effect on the nine-year-old.
That Xena, his dog, is alive is some kind of miracle.
She was severely abused and given a one per cent chance of survival before being nursed back to health by a vet, then Jonny’s family.
Not only has Xena been given a second chance at life, Jonny, who is on the autism spectrum, is markedly happier and has developed greater social skills.
Jonny, kissing Xena on the head, says he and his pooch are a “pretty perfect team”.
Shelter worker recoiled in shock
Animal shelter worker Chrissy Kaczynski tells CNN she recoiled in shock when she first saw Xena.
“I’ve been doing rescue probably for about 12 years, and I had never seen a dog that young in that sort of condition,” Ms Kaczynski says.
“I didn’t think she’d make it through the night. She was completely dehydrated and her nose was all scabbed over … like she had been trying to escape something.”
Jonny’s mother Linda Hickey says he readily cuddles and kisses the terrier and has become more tactile and expressive.
“These two were destined to be together, to save each other at a level that humans just can’t understand,” Ms Hickey says.
“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.”
Jonny adds: “Well, my Xena was hurt really bad by some not-so-nice people. And I have autism. So I think we make a pretty perfect team to spread the words to be nice to animals, and nice to kids like me.”