Where Are They Now? Vetstreet Checks in With Some of Our Favorites

Lucas and Juno

Lucas Hembree was 4 years old when we told you about his special relationship with his rescued Belgian Malinois, Juno. Lucas suffers from Sanfilippo syndrome, an inherited metabolic disease. As it progresses, it causes children to lose the ability to speak, walk and eat. The disease also causes severe neurological damage that leads to aggressive behavior, hyperactivity and seizures.

 Lucas Hembree with his service dog, Juno, in 2012.
Courtesy the Hembree family
Lucas Hembree with his service dog, Juno, in 2012.

Lucas’ dad, Chester, had experience in training Belgian Malinois to be police K-9s, and when he came across a posting about Juno on a Tennessee rescue group’s website, he had a gut feeling she would be perfect for his son. Lucas and Juno clicked, and Juno seemed to instinctively know to alert Lucas’ parents when he was about to have a seizure or when his oxygen levels dropped dangerously low. Chester also trained her to help Lucas.

Unfortunately, Lucas has regressed quite a bit since we first told you about him in 2012. His dad says he is now in an almost vegetative state and can no longer communicate or stand without help. Earlier this year, he turned 9 years old, and when he was first diagnosed, doctors said he might live to be only 10, Chester says.

Chester let Juno semi-retire from assisting Lucas — but their strong bond remains. “She is always eager to see him and quickly runs to be by his side,” he says. And he will always be grateful for everything Juno has done for Lucas and the rest of their family.

“She has been a real guardian angel,” he says. “I believe that having Juno was without a doubt divine intervention. It goes to show that shelter pets are not all there, because they have something bad in their past. Sometimes they end up at shelters, because they've not found the right family yet.”

More on Vetstreet:


Join the Conversation

Like this article? Have a point of view to share? Let us know!