Feb 16, 2018 | By Tess

Tucker, an adorable Australian shepherd born with an underdeveloped hind paw, was recently fitted with a 3D printed prosthetic. The prosthetic, which could help the five-year-old dog walk more evenly, was 3D printed by a dedicated team from the University of Missouri.

It’s been nearly a year since members of the University of Missouri’s Mizzou 3D Printing Club were enlisted to help Tucker, who was born with bones missing in one of his hind legs. Kendra Earl Warlow, Tucker’s owner, sought help from the 3D printing lab after adopting the disabled dog.

Since then, Warlow and Mizzou 3D Printing Club’s members have been working together to create a comfortable and functional 3D printed paw prosthetic, hoping that the dog’s mobility and overall comfort could be improved.

Like with most disabled dogs, Tucker’s challenges are not immediately apparent. According to Warlow, he runs and plays like a regular dog (only hopping along on three legs). The problem, she says, is that Tucker’s hind leg disability is causing him back pain, and he currently relies on a number of medications to keep the pain at bay.

Days ago, Warlow brought Tucker to the University of Missouri to be fitted with his latest 3D printed prosthetic paw.

After the 3D printed prosthetic was attached to Tucker’s leg, the MU students examined the dog’s stance and response to see what improvements could be made to the design. With the information from the fitting, they will tweak a few elements of the prosthetic’s structure using Autodesk Meshmixer to further optimize the design.

(Images: Hailey Hofer / Missourian)

So far, this is the second 3D printed prosthetic prototype that the Australian shepherd has been fitted with, though it likely won’t be the last. In fact, the student team 3D printed three versions of the design (in different sizes) to see which one would be the best fit.

With every new prosthetic paw tried and tested, the students come one step closer to designing the best bionic paw for the dog. They are hopeful that one day soon Tucker will be walking on all fours again.

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