Can-Do-Ability: Answers and Solutions from my personal experiences of living with a disability

Rescue Dog Shows Gratitude To Her New Family And Their Disabled Son

16 Mar 2012I am such a dog lover, the way they will love you, regardless of how bad your day has been, what you look like, or how much you earn. They are always there, to greet you with a big waggly tail and expressive eyes. There’s something magical about gazing deep into a dogs eyes, like they’re windows into their soul.

I believe dogs are a lot wiser than most people give them credit for. After all, they’ve been known to detect cancer, and sense seizures and natural disasters, before any human could even suspect something was wrong.

They say a dog that has been rescued, seems to pay their saviours back, by forging an extra special bond with them, as if they know what their fate would’ve been if they hadn’t been rescued. That is the exact situation that has inspired today’s blog.

Lucas Hembree, who just turned five years old, was born with Sanfilippo Syndrome, which is a rare metabolic disorder, affecting about 1 in 70,000 babies. The disorder is hereditary, and is caused by the absence or malfunctioning of an enzyme, that is required to break down long sugar molecules. Sanfilippo Syndrome symptoms may only be visible in a child after they reach twelve months of age, it can cause severe neurological damage, and as it progresses, they can lose the ability to eat, walk and speak.

For Lucas, he experiences seizures, difficulty in walking, and behavioural problems. Sadly, there is no treatment or cure available for those with Sanfilippo Syndrome, and Lucas isn’t expected to live past the age of 15. Doctors predict that by eight years old, he could be in a vegetative state.

While Lucas is still able to interact with loved ones, and participate in family activities, his parents, Chester and Jennifer, wanted him to make the most of his life while he can enjoy it. So when Lucas’ joints started being affected, Chester thought it would be a good idea to get him a service dog to assist him with his walking.

The cost of a service dog can start from $15000, and while researching the idea, Chester was advised against getting a dog for Lucas, because of his deteriorating abilities and his behavioural issues. But Chester refused to believe this, and was determined to find a companion for his son.

Persistence eventually paid off, because while on the internet, Chester came across a post on an animal rescue website about Juno, a female Belgian Malinois, who was being housed in a shelter, and was just days away from being euthanized. Being a former police officer, Chester was familiar with Belgian Malinois’, as they were frequently used as police dogs, he loved their willingness to learn and their ‘never give up’ attitude.

Chester had a gut feeling that he had to meet Juno, so he and his family drove the 2 hours, to an eastern Tennessee shelter, where she was being held.

It was love at first sight, as Juno and Lucas seemed to instantly form a bond with each other, and the Hembree’s gained another family member that day. Once Juno had settled into her new home and had been showered with love and affection, using his police dog training background, Chester got her into training, which she excelled in.

One day, Chester noticed Juno circling around Lucas, nudging him and whining, while he was in his wheelchair. After checking Lucas’ oxygen levels, Chester noticed they were extremely low. Once Lucas had been stabilized with some extra oxygen, and returned to normal, Juno celebrated by giving him affection and licking him. From that day on, Chester knew that Juno was in tune to Lucas’ neurological changes.

She frequently alerts the family of any abnormalities with Lucas’ oxygen levels, and has alerted them of impending seizures, Chester says she has saved him many times.

Juno is also literally a support for Lucas, as he uses her to lean on while walking. She also calms him down when he gets agitated.

Lucas and Juno have become quite popular throughout the cyber world, gaining a large following, and they were lucky enough to receive 6,000 Christmas cards from fans from all over the globe.

If you’d like to learn more about Lucas’ story, or follow his journey through his Facebook page, as written from Lucas’ point of view, by his dad Chester, you can ‘Like’ the page by visiting – www.facebook.com/PrayingforLucas - You can also read the original story about Lucas and Juno from the Today website here: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/46168614/ns/today-today_pets_and_animals/t/lucas-juno-special-bond-rescue-dog-dying-boy/

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