Photo Credit: PKMousie via Compfight cc
It’s been 50 long years since Rufus Thomas’ hit Walking the Dog showed the music world it could move beyond mushy love songs and find melodic inspiration from man’s best friend. Well now man’s best friend is giving us a tip or two on how to walk the walk.
The scientific world is leavened by inter-disciplinary dialogue, by the sharing and testing of knowledge, and no advancement can be artificially separated from all the labour and thought that preceded it in the many disparate domains that constitute human knowledge and technical progress.

It was therefore only a matter of time before veterinary sciences piggy-backed off developments in human medicine and envisioned giving animals a new liberty afforded by artificial limbs and prosthetics. Well, some generous-hearted scientists in the States have been responsible for some high-profile stories of recent that have lifted the hearts of the public, and are sure to lift yours too. Ladies and Gentleman, introducing Derby the Dog and and Brutus the Rottweiler, loveable canines that have been given a new lease of life with their renewed artificial mobility. In our first episode, we look at the incredible story of Derby the Dog.

In December of last year it was reported that a local pooch of Massachusetts named Derby was the beneficiary of incredible 3D printing technology that gave him two new front limbs. Initially born with deformities in his front two legs, the dog was slated to be euthanised when a local animal charity Peace and Paws Dog Rescue fostered the dog to a woman who was going to become a very special person in Derby’s life: Tara Anderson, a manager at a thriving local business 3D systems. Tara enlisted the aid of her colleagues to take thousands of two dimensional CAT scans which were then created into a computerised 3D image of prosthetic prototypes for Derby.

During the course of the design and printing, Derby was subsequently adopted by the Portanova family, which was the first to give him the gift of his new and ingenious “elbow cups”, worn by Derby every day in the afternoons for a couple of hours, sufficient time in which the pooch could expend all his energy in playful activity. The “elbow cups” were the product of a startling new technology called “Multi-Jet” printing that allowed the conjunction of both rigid and flexible structures in the prosthetics, to provide a perfect combination of comfort and sturdiness in the field.

3D systems’ Tara Anderson is now hoping that her beguiling new technology will help countless other animals overcome their congenital defects to find a renewed enjoyment in life. Follow Derby on his facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Derby-Portanova/1522450171310175?fref=ts

Next time we’ll tell you all about Brutus the Rottweiler’s adventures.