Boy with Rare Disease Finds Support From One of Man’s Best Friends

The amazing story of Lucas Hembree and his dog Juno

14th December 2011

By Bob Yarbrough –

The ability of Lucas Hembree, 4, to live life to the fullest is slowly slipping away. He suffers from Sanfilippo syndrome, a rare disease that affects his entire body.

There is no treatment and no cure for the disease. Doctors expect Lucas to be in a vegetative state within five years.

His mother Jennifer said his life expectancy is only the mid teens. “Everyday is a different challenge, everyday is a different journey,” she said.

Lucas’ parents considered a service dog to help with the daily challenges. But at a cost of $14,000, the idea not only seemed unaffordable but also a long shot at best, said his father Chester.

“At the time, the service dog handlers said Lucas is too spastic. It’ll never work,” he said.

The doubters, had never met Juno. She’s a Belgian Malanois rescued from an East Tennessee animal shelter just days before being euthanized.

The Hembrees paid about a hundred bucks to take Juno home. Malanois are known for their ability to quickly learn commands. Yet, from the time Juno met Lucas, Chester said there was something instinctive about their relationship.

“We noticed one day she was turning circles around him and whining, put her nose on him and nudge him. We checked his oxygen levels and they were low,” he said.

Juno is a literal shoulder for Lucas to lean on, and so much more, says his father. “She has given him so much confidence, before he had problems with social settings. Now, If he gets nervous, he pulls her closer to him. She’s made a drastic difference,” Chester said.

The Hembrees often wear the color purple as a symbol of their fight against Sanfilippo syndrome. Jennifer said it’s the same color Juno was wearing the very first time they met. “It was all meant to be, looking back, she had a purple collar, a purple lead. I didn’t realize it till a couple of months ago,” she said.

Fate. Bringing a boy and a dog together, to help each other in ways that only they fully understand.

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  • Jambo

    Thank you for this beautiful and inspiring story of Lucus and his dog Juno. It made me cry. May Lucus find medical help is my wish and prayer.

  • Chris Higginson

    What a shame that we are legally tied with treatments that can only be chemical or drug related to protect the pharmafiddle.
    Is there anyone out there who wouldn’t want to use anything to help the plight of this young life?

  • Angela

    Thank you for a lovely, heartwarming and inspiring story. I am convinced that this was not just a mere ‘coincidence’. 🙂

    Have you heard of The Healing Codes? It’s a wonderful modern healing system, that has already helped many people recover from ‘incurable’ diseases and other challenges. Well, why not give it a try at least. Here is a link to the website.

    Wishing you love, light and healing.

  • [email protected]

    May the love of God strenghten Lucas! Jesus is his answer, the best physician.” For nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:37
    “by his wounds you have been healed.” 1Peter 2:24

  • trime1

    Make absolutely certain not to feed Lucas any grains, or sugar but only vegetables made tasty with herbs and spices. white meat such as fish and organic chicken. No fruit juice unless 1x lemon or lime freshly pressed juice in about 8 ounces of pure (non fluorided) water. No cordials or soft drinks.
    Good luck.