One lucky pup is getting his groove back after being fitted for custom 3-D printed paws and legs.
Derby, a mutt that appears to be mostly husky, was born without fully formed front legs. Instead, he had small ‘elbows’ that left him pitched forward as he tried to run and play with other dogs.
“He was scooting around on these nubs and chest,” said Melissa Hannon, who rescued Derby through her organization, Peace and Paws.
After obtaining Derby from his original owners in Alabama, Hannon placed the pup with a foster owner, Tara Anderson. Anderson is the director of product management at a company focused on developing 3-D products called 3-D systems.
From the first day Hannon matched Derby and Anderson up, she hoped they could figure out a way to get Derby back on his feet again.
“I think it was a vision,” Hannon said of the plan to create 3-D printed prosthetic legs for Derby. “No one knew if it would work or if it would take.”
As Anderson cared for Derby, she began working with people at her company to design prosthetics for him.
“We start him off very low so it wouldn’t be too drastic,” Anderson said of Derby’s first model on the 3D Systems website.
This past summer, Derby found his permanent home with his new owners, Sherry and Dom Portanova in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. The couple sid Derby used to get around using a wheeled cart, but because it replaced his front legs it made it hard for him to interact with other pups.
When Derby was given his first prosthetic caps, they were little more than “caps” to cover and protect his “elbows” as he scooted around.
“He took to those immediately,” Sherry Portanova told ABC News. “They have cushion inside. That meant he could go run on driveway and concrete.”
Anderson continued working with engineers at her company to find a better solution for Derby. One model, much like “peg legs,” Anderson said didn’t work out well. But the next model was the golden ticket.
Anderson designed a long looping prosthetic that seemed to be just right for the energetic Derby.
As soon as Derby tried them on, the dog just took off.
“The first time he was put on them and he took off running, he was so happy,” she said in a video for 3D Systems. “I was absolutely amazed at how well he did.”
Now, Derby runs everyday with the couple, Portanova told ABC News.
She hopes Derby’s story encourages owners to adopt disabled pets.
“He’s such a good dog and he lives a full life,” she said. “He’s very special. Everybody who sees him just loves him.”