Months after being left for dead by the side of the road, a "miracle dog" named Xena the Warrior Puppy is changing the life of an 8-year-old boy with autism.
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.
The story begins in September, when Animal Services of DeKalb County, Georgia, found the puppy after she collapsed by the side of a road.
"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."