Bulldog who teaches kids to accept differences back on his feet after surgery

KANSAS CITY— Junior, a 7-year-old deaf bulldog who teaches kids the importance of acceptance, is walking again, after recovering from surgery at BluePearl Veterinary Partners hospital in Overland Park.

Junior recently suffered an injury that’s very similar to a torn ACL in humans – it’s called a torn cranial cruciate ligament or CCL. Without surgery, he wouldn’t be able to walk.

The news was heartbreaking to his owner, Deborah Pack, a retired schoolteacher who adopted Junior because she wanted a special needs dog to teach her pre-kindergarten students about differences.

“The children learned from Junior that we’re all unique, we are all different, but we have feelings,” Pack said. “Junior may not hear with his ears, but he hears with his heart.”

Junior also serves as a therapy dog, and provided comfort to victims of the Joplin tornado in 2011.

Dr. Heather Millard, a board-certified veterinary surgeon and medical director at BluePearl, was touched by Deborah’s story. She and other members of the BluePearl team agreed to do Junior’s surgery at a discounted rate. National pet charity Frankie’s Friends also contributed to the cost of care.

On February 14, Dr. Millard conducted a procedure on Junior known as a TPLO, where she leveled the slope of the tibia by cutting the bone and rotating it. She fastened a plate onto the side of the bone with a set of screws to hold the bone together during the healing process.

Now, just two short weeks later, Junior is walking again and back to his happy self.

“The work that Deborah and Junior do together is so inspiring,” said Dr. Millard. “We’re so happy that we had the opportunity to help them as they continue to spread their message of love and kindness.”

Junior isn’t the only dog Deborah uses for her lessons. She also adopted Stanley, a bulldog with a cleft palate, who has won recognition throughout the country for bringing awareness to the issue of bullying. Stanley has been named an ambassador for Smile Train, an organization that provides surgery for children with cleft palates in developing countries.

“It all started with Junior,” Pack said. “Without him, there would be no mission.”

Junior receives his pre-kindergarten degree after learning sign language. (photo courtesy of Deborah Pack)