I have a soft spot for disabled animals. I also think it’s really interesting to see how they adapt to missing limbs. There was a three-legged dog who lived near my house when I was growing up; when I walked my own dog, Tripod (the name I gave him, I never found out what his real name was) would rush down to the street to greet us with as much speed and agility as his four-legged brother. I also have a friend who currently has a three-legged cat, and that cat can run away from vacuum cleaners faster than some four-legged cats I know. He’s also developed a pretty good system to launch himself onto furniture; it’s both funny and impressive to watch.
For an animal missing two limbs, however, adaptation is a lot harder. Thankfully, there are kind, ingenious humans out there willing to help them. Tumbles, a seven-week-old puppy from Athens, Ohio, was born without front legs. His family, after seeing him struggle to compete with the rest of the litter for his mother’s milk, brought him to Friends of the Shelter Dogs, whom they believed could give him the help he needed. Tumbles is a determined little guy who has figured out how to get around by scooting, but Jennifer and Brad Reed decided to figure out how to help him get off the ground.
Brad Reed, a security analyst in the Office of Information Technology at Ohio University, is experienced in CAD drafting. When his wife told him about Tumbles, whom she had seen in a Facebook post, he decided to see if he could make Tumbles a wheelchair. He had seen a wheelchair made for a dachshund online, and he tweaked the design to fit Tumbles, a terrier mix. He then used the 3D printer at Ohio University’s Innovation Center to print the chair’s plastic parts, which took about fourteen hours. According to center director Joe Jollick, this is the first time the printer has been used to print any sort of functional prosthetic.
Unfortunately, the chair was a bit too big for tiny Tumbles, and his attempts to use it resulted in some more tumbling. Unfazed, Reed redesigned the wheelchair, making it smaller and adding training wheels, which even have a bit of additional flair; their spokes look like dog bones. The chair was printed at the Innovation Center on Tuesday, and is expected to be fully complete by the end of the week. If the new one doesn’t work, Reed and the Innovation Center will try again; they’ve already promised to help Tumbles for the rest of his life.
“That means that they will work with us as he grows and needs an altered wheelchair and any other devices they believe will help him,” said Angela Marx, rescue coordinator at Friends of the Shelter Dogs.
The lucky puppy has a lot of people wanting to help him. He’s being adopted by Karen Pilcher, another Friends of the Shelter Dogs rescue coordinator, who had been fostering him since he was brought in. If you’d like to help Tumbles and other special-needs dogs, you can donate to Friends of the Shelter Dogs. Discuss this cute story in the Tumbles Forum thread on 3DPB.com.
Below, you can watch the video of Tumbles being fitted for his original, too-big wheelchair: