Loving a pet means helping them as they age. Even if they lose a little pep in their step, senior pups are just as loving and devoted! Some health issues are an easy fix, while others require inventiveness, creativity, and an outside-the-box approach.
Using his passion for pets and 3D printing, one pet owner has helped not only his own dog but also pets around the world!
For Chad Lalande and his beloved 18-year-old Pomeranian, Sienna, challenges started to arise as Sienna lost her eyesight. Lalande knew that certain steps were needed to keep Sienna safe and sound.
Among other things, experts recommend consistent routines, using essential oils or other pleasant, strong smells to mark areas and objects of importance, and a descriptive collar or tag that lets others know your dog is blind.
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Sienna, however, faced one challenge that Lalande struggled to help her with. She was constantly knocking her head on walls and doorframes as she navigated her home, causing her pain and frustration.
Some companies create “halos” for blind dogs — rings just larger than their heads that fit like a helmet and act as a “bumper” for the dog. But these can be expensive and difficult to get fitting correctly, so Lalande decided to blaze his own trail.
Using a 3D printer he got for Christmas in 2020, Lalande began to experiment and prototype his own custom “halo” designs. “It was so much easier and cheaper to do this kind of thing with a computer and 3D printer,” Lalande told Gizmodo. It took six iterations, multiple tests with Sienna, and feedback from hobbyist Facebook groups, but Lalande eventually landed on a design that kept Sienna balanced, protected, and mobile.
“Sienna doesn’t like to wear it all that much,” Lalande explained to Freethink, “but it is still better than banging her head into things.”
Lalande didn’t stop after fixing Sienna’s problem, however. As a thank-you to the 3D printing community that helps enthusiasts refine their designs, Lalande released his prototype on Thingiverse, a site for blueprints, designs, and tools for 3D printers.
Now, anyone with a similar pet problem can build off of his work for their own needs! Lalande has also helped family members and their dogs with issues like mobility and joint pain, even building his dad’s dog, Timmy, a wheelchair. One harness attachment he made for his sister’s collie helped ease the strain on the senior dog’s knees through elastic bands, making nice long walks possible again!
Lalande’s creative problem-solving skills and dedication to his family pets show just how important pets are to many of us, and the ways we can enrich each other’s lives.
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