Dog owner Trevor Byers and his wife awoke one night to discover that their pet Dachshund had given birth to a puppy in their bed and was in the process of delivering another one. Shortly after transferring mother and child to a nearby whelping box, the Byers discovered that the first puppy was born without front legs. Deeply concerned about the prospect for a quality life for the puppy, they did some research that yielded some very positive results. They discovered that animals with similar disabilities lead full lives in part thanks to compassionate human companions and also thanks to wheelchair-like devices that provided the animals with tremendous mobility.
Soon after, Byers, who is in the US Army, stationed in Fort Hood, Texas, set about constructing a wheeled device something like a cart for Bubbles the two legged weiner dog. After several failed attempts at creating a custom apparatus, Byers and his wife purchased their first 3D printer. He began adapting his designs to the digital process, creating a series of 3D models that did not yield the kind of results he was seeking. Eventually, he arrived at a design that could be customized for Bubbles and any other pet with a similar disability.
Byers shared his design, which he concedes is still a work in progress in the sense that it could be improved by refinements but also works quite well as it is for Bubbles, on Instructables. The cart is lightweight and stable and does not place undue stress on the Dachshund’s longer back.
His instructions include a process for taking measurements specific to an individual pet. If a pet isn’t about the same size as Bubbles, getting the necessary measurements and adjusting the design of the wheelchair is a critical step in the fabrication process. For instance, measuring the circumference of the animal’s chest, the length of the rib cage, and the space between partial front limbs is key to creating the cart portion of the device. In order to determine how high the curving axle or fork and wheels should be, measurements need to be taken with the dog in a natural standing position.
“Adjusting the height of the fork and the angle that it mounts to the frame can completely change how it works for the dog,” explains Byers.
Byers encourages makers interested in producing a wheelchair for a larger or smaller pet to contact him directly for assistance in this regard. He also suggests that if you won’t be doing the designing yourself, that you provide your designer with photographs of your pet to facilitate customization. The 3D designed and printed parts for the wheelchair are the frame, the fork, and the two rims. You can also print the strap loop and the spacer as they help in adjusting and using the cart. Other materials, including the 1”-wide nylon strap used to secure the cart to the animal, are cheap and easy to access.
Byers’ 3D printable .stl files are available on the Instructables page, as are his very easy-to-understand production and assembly instructions. Additionally, he provides step-by-step instructions for strapping an animal into the device, tips for trouble-shooting, and an utterly delightful video that demonstrates how well the Front Leg Wheel Chair works for Bubbles (check it out below!). Clearly, her disability is not holding her back in the least!
Let us know what you think of this great dog cart in the 3D Printed Dog Wheelchair forum thread over at 3DPB.com.