Thursday, May 2, 2013

Xena The Warrior Puppy Rescues Jonny and Our Hearts

When I'm playing with our dogs Jackson and Bailey at home, the two boys pretty much decide what kind of game we play and how long it will last.

"Who controls who,?" my bemused husband will often ask.

The larger question on this topic came to me when I read a bumper sticker about animal rescues. "Who rescue who?" was the text on the paw print shaped sticker.
Best buddies Xena and Jonny

I bring this up because of an initially horrifying and ultimately beautiful story I saw on Buzzfeed about Xena the Warrior Puppy and Jonny, an eight year old boy

I'm a sucker for stories like this. That's because I love hearing confirmation of my belief that dogs are among the most powerful beings in the universe. If you think about it, dog rescues that have good outcomes are really cases of the rescued dogs rescuing the rescuers.

Got that?

Xena was four months old when someone found her discarded and terribly emaciated on the side of the road. She'd been held in a crate and starved for her first months of life, then dumped and left for dead.

Gawd, I wish I could get my hands on the people who did that. But the cruelty done to that dog led to some beautiful things

When found, the puppy was in such bad shape that it was assumed the rescuers were too late. The photos of the battered, skeletal puppy in the Buzzfeed story are an absolute horror. People at Animal Services of DeKalb County, Georgia assumed she would die a sad death.

This quote about Xena when she was found, according to the Today show:

“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, who works for Animal Services and is a founding member of the rescue group Friends of DeKalb Animals. “I brought her home with me and I didn’t think she’d make it through the night.”

But nope, Xena was a fighter. Presumably egged on by a Facebook page started in her honor Xena recovered beautifully. Her name actually came once she largely recovered. People were so impressed by her fighting spirit that the name came naturally.

Finally it was time for Xena to get a new family, one that would treat her well. Animal Rescue of DeKalb County held an open house, where people could meet Xena.

Xena took control, running up to the Hickey family who were at the open house after following her saga on Facebook. A news crew doing a feature on Xena and her recovery showed the dog running right up to Jonny and his father as soon as they arrived.
Another shot of Xena and Jonny  

The Hickey family could do nothing else but rescue Xena and bring her home to be part of her family.

Here's what Mrs. Hickey wrote on Facebook after they brought Xena home. She is an awesome woman, judging from the post. 

Then there's the effect Xena had on Jonny. Like many people with autism, Jonny shied away from people, from communicating. But Xena and Jonny became fast, intense friends, and Xena totally drew Jonny out of his shell.

Watch this absolutely charming video of Jonny singing "You've Got a Friend In Me" then tell me who rescued who in this scenario. Seems to be mutual.

In my life with our two dogs, there's no dramatic turnaround, no incredible stories. My life with my dogs is no more remarkable than millions of other people with their pets.

But the predictable, wonderful moments with The Boys just really help everything. When I'm working in my home office, Bailey, the older, wiser one, comes in to the office every once in awhile, just to check in on me, get a chest rub and a kiss.

When I sit down on the couch to watch TV after a long day, here comes energetic cocker spaniel Jackson to leap up onto my lap, get a nice, long backrub, then fall asleep.

Yes, the two Boys are acting "selfishly."  Bailey wants the reassurance that we're still there for him, which is why he comes into the office to check. Jackson knows the back rubs feel so good, and I'll reliably give them, and plus the close contact with me reassures him.

But these routines give me a chance to stop, forget the craziness of my life for a few minutes, and just live in the moment.  The Boys always remind me that just stopping and breathing and enjoying life is always the best option.

So again, who rescued who here?


  1. Your article really captured the heart of these two precious souls. Jonny and Xena's story has now gone global! From Atlanta to Australia to Singapore to Argentina to France to Croatia to Mexico to England and beyond. Millions of people now know and love Jonny and his BFF, Xena- the Warrior Puppy. To quote Jonny "I think we make a pretty perfect team to spread the words to be nice to animals, and nice to kids like me.” These two are destined for great things.

  2. The name of the group who rescued Xena is Friends of Dekalb Animals and they have a FB page and could always use help so they can help more animals like Xena .