Derby was never very good at fetch. He was born with a disability and it seemed like a cart with wheels was his best option — until Tara Anderson built him a brand-new pair of legs.
"I kept looking at his photo and reading his story, and I cried literally every time," Anderson, an employee of 3D Systems in Rock Hill, South Carolina, said in a viral video that has now been seen more than 2.27 million times. "I had to try to help this dog."
Derby's condition meant he couldn't use his front legs much. Anderson became a foster parent to the dog after spotting him on the Peace and Paws website, where people can rescue canines from high-kill shelters in the South and Midwest. At first, she outfitted him with wheels, which at least helped him get around. But he still couldn't run like a normal dog.
So, she and her colleagues designed new front legs for Derby, using the same 3-D printing process that researchers in Florida had used to give 6-year-old Alex Pring a new arm in July. The printers you have in your home or office release ink onto paper. Wiith 3-D printers, it's plastic, which is applied in layers until a three-dimensional object is created. The process that has been used to make everything from coat hooks to custom My Little Pony dolls.
Recently, people have been exploring 3-D printing's potential as a way to cheaply manufacture prosthetic limbs. Anderson briefly considering giving Derby straight legs, but decided against it because the dog might dig them into the dirt.
Instead, she decided on a loop shape. How is Derby doing with his new adoptive parents, Sherry and Dom Portanova? They say he is running a healthy 2 to 3 miles a day.