VIDEO: Dog of the Year Helps 8-year-old Boy With Autism
Life didn’t start off well for a dog named Xena — but today, it is nearly perfect.
Previously abandoned and abused, the resilient canine has been rescued by humans who adore them. Xena also is a celebrity in the animal world: The ASPCA named her Dog of the Year for 2013.
The pet was championed at the “Humane Awards” in New York City last Thursday.
Soon after getting rescued from serious neglect, Xena become a constant companion, friend and therapist for Jonny Hickey, an 8-year-old boy with autism.
Jonny used to be withdrawn and silent the majority of the time, however when he met Xena earlier this year, he grew to become “non-stop chatter,” his mother Linda Hickey told.
“He is the happiest child that I’ve ever seen him be in eight years,” she stated.
Jonny has come a long way that, with Xena by his side, he was capable to show up at Thursday’s awards luncheon – a thing his mother explained would have been not possible only 8 months ago. He likewise accomplished an additional milestone that day: his first press interview, in which he enjoyably told NBC’s Jill Rappaport, “We’re in New York City!”
The story of Xena and Jonny has been shared in 95 countries, provinces and territories around the world. An active social-media community has mushroomed, tracking Xena’s happy antics and promoting Linda Hickey’s continuous hard work to help the rescue group in Georgia that first saved Xena’s life in addition to autism-awareness programs.
Recently, Xena as well has been visiting with a 12-year-old girl with cancer at a children’s hospital in Atlanta and with cellmates at an Atlanta jail who train homeless dogs through the Canine CellMates program.