Jonny Hickey has lived most of his life in quiet solitude. Jonny is autistic and although he can read and speak just fine, he prefers to stay to himself most of the time. In fact, most of the time his family wouldn’t hear a peep from him. Then one day a miracle happened and it was all thanks to a new friend that Jonny was introduced to.
Jonny Hickey was having a hard time making friends in Johns Creek, Georgia. Despite his struggles with regular social cues, he was never completely alone. Jonny has a great support system that consists of his mom, dad, and brother, Christian. However, the Hickey’s did notice something different about Jonny.
19. Progressing Differently
The Hickey’s began to notice that Jonny was different from a pretty young age. He wasn’t progressing at the same rate as other kids his age. His mother Linda spoke out saying that she just “couldn’t understand what was going on.”
“We have to teach Jonny everything. Even from how to put on a pair of pants or how to put on shoes. Kids figure it out [but] we have to teach Jonny everything,” Linda explained. That was when Linda knew that she needed to reach out to a doctor and figure out what was going on with her son.
17. The Answer
Once she took Jonny to a doctor, Linda learned that her son was autistic. This meant that socializing with others would be more difficult for him. Unfamiliar situations would often trigger him so Jonny preferred his own company over others.
16. A Change
However, the Hickey’s had no idea that their son’s life was about to change in a huge way. Not too far away, an animal service worker named Chrissy Kaczynski stumbled across an abandoned four-month-old pit bull. No one expected what happened next…
15. Horrible Conditions
When Kaczynski discovered the pit bull she was in total shock at how horrible the dog looked. “I’ve been doing rescue probably for about 12 years, and I had never seen a dog that young in that sort of condition,” Kaczynski said. The dog had basically been left to die…
The pup was in such terrible shape that even the vet’s didn’t have much hope in the pit bull’s survival. The dog was practically starved to death and it would take a real miracle for it to pull through. The odds were not in her favor…
Surprisingly enough, the puppy pulled through and because of her fighting spirit she earned the name “Xena the Warrior Puppy.” With such a unique backstory, the animal shelter began updating fans on their Facebook page on Xena’s progress. That’s how Jonny’s mom discovered her.
12. Falling In Love
Linda was absolutely smitten as soon as she saw the dog. She just knew she had to meet Xena. So when Xena was finally healthy enough, Linda headed over to a fundraiser event at the shelter with Jonny so that they both could meet her. Linda never expected her son to react the way he did!
11. Amazing Bond
As soon as the two were introduced they bonded amazingly. Linda was blown away by the chemistry shared between Xena and Jonny. It was then she decided to adopt Xena and bring her into the family.
10. All Smiles
“She was in his lap and she was kissing him all over his face and he was smiles from ear-to-ear,” Linda said. “We drove home [with] her in his lap the whole way.” However, that wasn’t the only positive effect that Xena would have on Jonny.
With Xena’s addition into the family, Linda began to see Jonny’s personality completely change in the best way possible! “He is non-stop chatter now,” Linda told Today. “He is the happiest child that I’ve ever seen him be in eight years.”
7. New Hobbies
Image: Inspire My Kids
With his newfound confidence, Jonny has begun to undertake new hobbies. One of his new favorite things to do is cook! Along with that, Jonny and Xena have their very own non-profit called Spread the Words Foundation. The foundation works to spread information on both autism and animal cruelty.
6. Award Winner
Image: NBC News
Thanks to the huge change that Xena brought about in Jonny’s personality, she was given a huge honor. Xena was named the ASPCA 2013 Dog of the Year. It was huge honor to receive such credit. You won’t believe what the Hickey’s have in store next!
5. Movie Deal
“As most of you know, we have been working with a producer in Hollywood to bring the story of Jonny and Xena to the screen. It’s a long process and lots of memories are being discussed, both happy and not so happy,” Xena’s Facebook page posted. There are even more big plans on the horizon for the family.
The Hickey’s have been organizing tons of fundraisers for their foundation. Some of these include fashion shows and sporting events. The family is eternally grateful to Xena and her impact on their son.
Although the family isn’t sure how Xena worked her magic on Jonny, they are eternally grateful that she did. Their son is a new person now and is filled with self-confidence like never before. Jonny is also excited to teach people about the hardships that he’s had to overcome.
2. Destined To Be
“I really believe God had a plan. These two were destined to be together — to save each other at a level that humans just can’t understand,” Linda said. Jonny also had a lot to sweet words say about his best friend.
1. Perfect Team
“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,” Jonny said.