Up until two months ago, Jonny Hickey was a solitary and quiet child. Diagnosed with autism, he had difficulty forming connections with other people and would isolate himself, rarely speaking, even to family members.
Then, in February, the Hickeys adopted a rescue dog who immediately became attached to the youngest member of the family. Jonny’s friendship with Xena the Warrior Puppy brought him out of his shell — he began to talk, sing, and take a greater interest in the world around him. “He is the happiest child that I’ve ever seen him be in eight years,” his mother Linda told the Today show.
“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, an animal rescue worker and founding member of the rescue group Friends of DeKalb Animals told Today. “I brought her home with me and I didn’t think she’d make it through the night.”
13. Jonny singing “You’ve Got a Friend in Me” from Pixar’s Toy Story to Xena.
16. Jonny has grown so confident that in early April, he and Xena made a video to promote Autism Awareness Month.
“My name is Jonny and this is my puppy, Xena. 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 word to be nice to animals, and nice to kids like me.”