- Associated Press - Thursday, November 26, 2015

ATHENS, Ohio (AP) - Thanks to the Athens community and the 3-D printer at Ohio University’s Innovation Center, a tiny puppy named Tumbles will hopefully be tumbling less.

Tumbles - born in Athens - was not only the runt of his litter, but he was also born without front legs. The puppy was having trouble competing with his siblings to eat and ended up being bottle-fed. Tumbles is now thriving in foster care, but has some trouble getting from place to place.

That’s where the community stepped in.

Tumbles is being fostered by Karen Pilcher, rescue coordinator with Friends of the Shelter Dogs. A post made on Facebook about Tumbles caught the attention of local resident Jennifer Reed. After sharing Tumbles’ story with her husband Brad, he decided to see if he could help.

Brad Reed is a security analyst in Ohio University’s Office of Information Technology and said he has experience with CAD drafting. He saw a design for a doggie wheelchair made for dachshunds online and decided to tweak the design for Tumbles, a terrier mix.

After tweaking the design, Reed utilized OU’s 3-D printer to make the plastic parts of the “chair.” A video was posted online showing Tumbles trying his new chair for the first time. However, Tumbles . well, he tumbled forward.

Reed then went back to the drawing board and created another wheelchair design for Tumbles, this time smaller and with training wheels. On Nov. 17, the parts were being printed at the Innovation Center. The spokes of the wheels for the customized chair even resemble dog bones.

Joe Jollick, Innovation Center lab director, said the first wheelchair took about 14 hours to print. He estimates a similar time frame for the new chair. The new design is expected to be complete by the end of the week.

Jollick said this is the first time the 3-D printer has been used to create a functional prosthetic of any kind.

“Nothing has gotten this much attention,” he said of the projects the two-year-old printer has been involved with.

Jollick said the printer is most often used for prototyping for OU departments and faculty. He said hopefully Tumbles’ new chair will provide better balance for the puppy.

As the video of Tumbles’ first chair went viral on the Internet, Pilcher said applications to adopt the puppy have been pouring in. But Tumbles is already spoken for.

“I’m going to adopt him,” Pilcher said.

___

Information from: The Athens Messenger, https://www.athensmessenger.com/

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