What could possibly be more horrible for a Mother than to never be able to embrace her son, show him affection, or a kiss on the cheek. For Amanda Granados and her son Joey, this was their reality. Joey was diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, a disorder on the high-functioning end of the autism spectrum, at age seven and for years after he loathed any form of physical contact, suffered from outbursts he could not control and hit himself.
Then a few months ago a ray of sunshine brightened their lives and everything changed forever with a new member of the family named Roxy. Joey was so happy to see Roxy he kissed his Mother on the cheek for the first time…EVER!
Roxy is a soft gray pit bull with floppy ears and a playful personality. Granados confessed that she was nervous at first because she had heard bad things about pit bulls. But Roxy’s immediate connection with Joey made her melt.
“She is literally his best friend,” Granados said. “He can be in the foulest mood, and she comes along and it’s like a light. She doesn’t care about his differences — there’s no judgment with her — she just loves him.”
“For all those years, he wouldn’t hold my hand, he wouldn’t hug me — it was all part of the autism — but this dog has taught him how to give and show affection. He holds my hand now! He hugs me! The first time I got a kiss on the cheek was when Roxy came home.”
Joey, now 14, said his new dog has made everything easier for him.
“I didn’t have too many friends growing up, but then we got Roxy and I’ve been able to make friends ever since,” Joey said. “At home, I’ve been able to hold my mom’s hand, kiss her, hug her and do a lot of things that I hadn’t been able to do growing up.
“She’s opened up my heart.”
Joey had been asking his mom for a dog, and she saw that the Best Friends Pet Adoption & Spay/Neuter Center in Los Angeles was planning an event where a shelter dog could be adopted for $10.
“We were looking through pictures online, and Roxy’s picture made us fall in love with her,” Granados recalled.
When they arrived at Best Friends and met Roxy face to face it was an instant love connection.
“As soon as Roxy met Joey, she totally ignored me and his mother,” said adoptions specialist Denise Landaverde. “Amanda was happily surprised to see Roxy go straight to Joey and watch them play together. It just sealed the deal for her.”