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Xena, a rescue dog who is a member of the AKC Canine Partners program, is a honorable mention winner in the AKC Humane Fund Awards for Canine Excellence in the category of Exemplary Companion. She is owned by Linda Hickey of Johns Creek, GA.

Xena has been nicknamed “the Warrior Puppy.” As a young puppy, she was severely abused and left for dead, but she was rescued and went through a miraculous recovery.

Linda Hickey adopted Xena into her family in March 2013 where she immediately bonded with Linda’s autistic son, Jonny, and became his constant companion.

“This warrior, Xena, has brought a boy who was quiet and withdrawn to a lively, talkative and happy child. Xena understands Jonny and gives him unconditional love that he so desires. A misunderstood boy is not so misunderstood to his best friend Xena and that is what makes them the perfect team,” Linda said.

Through Facebook and media coverage, Xena and Jonny have spread awareness about both autism and animal cruelty. Their story has even been featured on the NBC Nightly News.

Get information on joining the AKC Canine Partners community for all dogs, including mixed-breeds and rescues.

Get information on the ACE awards.