3D Printers Give Disabled Dog the Joy of Running

Here's something that's undoubtedly worth your time if you're an animal lover, a nurturer, or... well, really, if you have nothing more than a beating heart somewhere inside you. It's enough to make you feel a bit misty-eyed, but that's not always a bad thing, is it? It's a video of Derby, a disabled dog who runs for the first time through the use of 3D-printed legs, proving once and for all that yes, technology is kinda cool.

It's hard to overstate both how adorable and charismatic Derby is, and how much determination to get around he shows even before he's equipped with the new prosthetics — born with deformed front legs, he has to sort of drag himself along, back sloping forwards towards the ground as he goes.

But thanks to the intervention of Tara Anderson, a director of project management with 3D Systems, a company that specializes in personal and professional grade 3D-printing, Derby's ability to frolic and run was basically remade entirely. Thanks to her company's ability to manufacture him precisely engineered prosthetic legs, the little guy is now able to gallop down the street with his owner in tow, and the look of sheer excitement it gives him is... well, heartwarming doesn't quite cover it.

If this all seems a little gushy to you, I guess I should admit that I'm a dog owner myself, and as such I'm sort of helpless in the face of this sort of thing. The amount of empathetic pain it's possible to feel when a loved and cherished animal is struggling is remarkable, as is how much joy it can bring to see them happy and healthy. In Derby's case, it's possible that being born ten years earlier would've precluded him from ever getting to really feel the wind in his face as he ran through the grass under his own power.

But now, with fine-tuned, customized prosthetics being so much easier to create by way of 3D-printing (still one of the most mind-blowing technological advancements in recent years, for my money), he's able to enjoy what you might call the full, prototypical "dog experience."

And while I'd hesitate to personify him too much, it sure looks like he's enjoying himself. According to his adopted owner, he's now keeping pace on his daily walks, sometimes running two-to-three miles a day and never tiring. So congratulations to Derby, and hats off to 3D Systems — this is a winner all-around.