Abused Dog Becomes Autistic Child’s Miracle Pet

Xena, an abused rescue, changes the life of a child with autism and his family.

By Cari Jorgensen | Posted: August 12, 2014, 12 p.m. PST

Xena was left on someone’s front lawn, nearly dead from starvation and terribly abused. When she was found in Georgia in September of 2012, the veterinarian who checked her gave her only a one percent survival rate.

The odds were stacked against her.

But sometimes odds are beaten. A Johns Creek resident saw Xena’s story on the news and prayed for her nightly. The images of Xena’s emaciated body stuck in Linda Hickey’s mind. She was horrified and saddened.

After following the Facebook page created for Xena, and seeing Xena’s struggle and subsequent return to health, Hickey decided to adopt her.



Hickey calls it a "classic story of who rescued who,” according to My Fox Atlanta. Hickey’s son, Jonny, is autistic. Uncommunicative and demanding of his personal space, Jonny’s reaction to Xena was nothing short of a miracle to the Hickey family.

"[S]he jumped right into his lap! She’s licking him all over his face, he was smiles from ear to ear, he was singing to her, he was talking nonstop to her…he…was forming sentences!” she told My Fox Atlanta.

Having never been trained as a service or therapy dog, her assistance seemed to come naturally. It was as though the two were connected because of their struggles, forming a bond that no one saw coming.

Her story has led to her becoming a finalist in the 2014 American Humane Association Hero Dog Award contest. Public voting is open through September 15. To vote, visit www.herodogawards.org.

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