Johnny’s world was silent and lonely until he met a special dog.
Dogs can reach deep within boundaries of our souls where no one else can. Xena, an American Staffordshire Terrier puppy, did just that.
Since birth, eight-year-old Johnny has lived in a solitary world of autism that nothing could penetrate.
However, when Xena entered Johnny’s life, things changed! Johnny went from a withdrawn and quiet little boy to a happy and outgoing child.
The Shocking Condition of Xena
Xena staggered into a strange yard of someone one day.
She was extremely emaciated and is such bad shape that she was hours from death.
Luckily, the DeKalb County Animal Services of Georgia was called to come and pick her up.
Upon arrival, there was sheer disbelief and horror on the face of the animal officer as he gazed upon Xena.
Carrying her back to the shelter and upon arrival, Chrissy Kaczynski, an employee at the shelter was sickened by what she saw.
Chrissy, who also happens to work with Friends of DeKalb Animals rescue, took Xena home with her that night to care for the poor little pup.
After a thorough exam with a veterinarian, Xena was treated to restore her weight and fluids.
Through several months of intensive care and treatment, Xena became a new puppy.
Chrissy Kaczynski brought her back from the brink of death. She named this puppy with a strong will to live, “Xena the Warrior Puppy.”
Xena Enters Johnny’s Life
Johnny’s mother read about Xena on the shelter’s Facebook page and fell in love with the puppy immediately.
She knew that Xena belonged with them.
First, she wanted to introduce Johnny to Xena and see how they would interact. During a fundraising event, Johnny met Xena.
When Xena saw Johnny, she ran up to him. There was an immediate connection.
A few days later, Xena was picked up by Johnny’s mother for a ‘trial day.’
Xena jumped up into the family’s car, and they were off to pick Johnny up at school.
When Johnny arrived at the car to see Xena sitting in his car seat, he smiled ear to ear and was overcome with joy.
Xena rode the way home sitting in Johnny’s lap as he smothered her in kisses.
Xena became a part of the family on that very day.
Johnny went from being a prisoner in a silent world to a little boy that was bubbling over with infectious happiness.
Johnny was difficult to reach by his teachers, therapists, and his own family.
He rarely spoke and had bouts of triggered meltdowns.
He now plays, gives ‘high-fives’ to strangers, sings, and talks constantly.
At the end of his school days, he gets into the family car to find his trusty best friend, Xena, there waiting.
He will talk about the various things he did in school that day and all the way home, he sings to Xena and gives her lots of kisses and hugs.
Autism and Interactions With Animals
Research has shown that autistic children who interacted with companion pets had a higher probability of talking, laughing, and making eye contact.
As part of occupational therapy with autistic children, integrating animals in the therapy provides a calming effect.
Advocate For Shelter Dogs
Xena suffered greatly for the first four months of her life, but through the love and care of shelter and rescue staff, she was given a second chance.
Although Xena is the miracle Johnny needed, the rescue, shelter, and Johnny’s mother were the miracles Xena needed.
So many dogs in shelters are passed over because they look ugly, are too old, are not cute puppies, or are a breed that our culture has slapped the wrong label on as being aggressive.
These dogs are waiting for their second chance in life and who knows, they may be the miracle that some other autistic child needs just like Johnny did.