“He has always been the happiest dog I know,” Derby’s adopted human, Sherry Portanova, tells The Dodo. But before he met Sherry, things weren’t so bright for him.
Derby was born with underdeveloped front limbs, and although he was otherwise a healthy dog, that one difference nearly caused him to be put down. The young dog’s original owners decided they didn’t want him anymore, and he soon wound up at the Peace and Paws Dog Rescue shelter in Hillsborough, N.H. But he wasn’t unwanted for long.
Fortunately, Derby soon met someone who was not only compassionate enough to save his life, but also equipped with the know-how to improve it too.
That person was Tara Anderson, director at 3D Systems, a company that specializes in 3-D printing. When she heard about Derby’s condition, she knew she had to do her part to give him a second chance — and perhaps find a solution to his mobility limitations.
After taking Derby in as a foster, Anderson set him up with a wheeled cart to make it easier for him to get around. And while it certainly did help, Anderson suspected that her team of designers could do one better.
The skilled staff at 3D Systems soon set about crafting a custom set of prosthetic legs that would not only help Derby to move more naturally, but that would also let him live out his full potential as an energetic pet. Several design attempts later, they finally settled on an oval-tread shape, designed to fit Derby’s unique anatomy.