Alcoa boy’s service dog recovering in hospital
By Melanie Tucker | (email@example.com)
Juno, the service dog who rarely leaves the side of 5-year-old Lucas Hembree, is fighting for her life in a Maryville veterinary hospital, and family members desperately want her home.
Jennifer and Chester Hembree, Lucas’ parents, took Juno to Village Veterinary Hospital in Maryville on Sunday after her health had declined rapidly in just a short time. The Belgian malinois was suffering from severe bouts of diarrhea and was neither eating nor drinking.
Dr. Edwin Lehman met the family at the hospital and continues to care for her. Colitis is the initial diagnosis, but further tests have been done.
Lucas and Juno are not new to Daily Times readers. A series of articles have been written on the Alcoa boy and his service dog. Lucas suffers from a rare and fatal condition called Sanfilippo syndrome and there is no cure. Sufferers rarely live past their teens.
Juno has a calming effect on Lucas and helps him get around in his wheelchair and leg braces. The intelligent dog can also detect when Lucas is about to have a seizure, something that has happened frequently over the past couple of years. Chester rescued Juno from an animal shelter and even trained her.
“Lucas has missed her,” Jennifer said on Monday as the family checked on her progress. “She has missed him, too.”
A family friend, Kellie Bachman, the lead investigator for the Blount County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, said her organization has stepped up to help pay for Juno’s medical bills. The Hembrees had exhausted what money they had saved for such an emergency.
“So far $2,700 has been raised for Juno’s care,” Bachman said. “Whatever is raised beyond these immediate medical expenses for Juno will be given to the family for future medical expenses.”
Bachman said when Juno arrived at Village Veterinary Hospital, the Hembrees were at a loss to know what to do. The service dog had been under the care of another veterinary facility, but Jennifer sensed things were going down hill quickly. It was a good thing they got her to Village when they did, Bachman said.
The Hembrees have been through some tough times lately. Lucas has battled a bladder infection, then e.coli, a couple of viral infections and even salmonella and strep throat. His immune system is highly compromised due to his condition. At one point it was thought little Lucas might have scarlet fever, but that turned out to be negative.
According to Chester and Jennifer, Juno was eating both dry and wet food on Monday and they were hopeful she would make a full recovery and come home to the boy who terribly misses him.
Juno is definitely a service dog through and through, Bachman said. She just wants to get back to doing her job.
“We couldn’t let this dog go down hill because Lucas needs her,” Bachman said. “They need each other.”