By Micaela Pryor
Columnist for The Loop Newspaper 

Marley's Mutts Rescue puppy gets fitted for prosthetic


Project leader Blake Olson explains how he creates and prints computer models of the prosthetic.

Tehachapi High School had an adorable visitor on May 27; 16-week-old pitbull puppy Trinity. She, along with veterinarian Dr. Mayuri Kerr and Marley's Mutts founder Zach Skow, arrived at the THS robotics lab at 2 p.m. for one of many special fittings. The pup is named Trinity due to her having only three legs. High school junior Blake Olson has been working for months with Trinity, Dr. Kerr, and Marley's Mutts to develop a prosthetic back leg for Trinity. She has been to several fittings already, since her rapid growth requires frequent readjustments to the size and design of the prosthetic.

The fitting began by placing little Trinity on a table in the robotics lab, which she excitedly hobbled around on in search for food and attention. Physics and robotics teacher Danielle Evansic held and fawned over the sweet puppy, as did any students passing through the lab. Dr. Kerr explained how her prosthetic wasn't just a leg they strapped onto her, but several layering and connecting pieces that covered her stump and lifted her up onto a peg leg of sorts. Trinity has become so used to not having a back leg that the height and weight of a full prosthetic would be too jarring. Olson came up with the plan to make several detachable peg legs of varying heights, which would lift her leg up gradually.

At this particular fitting, the team was trying out a one-inch peg leg to see how Trinity would react. It was slow going at first, since Trinity has grown more and more adept at wriggling out of her pink plastic prosthetic. After many readjustments and a little duct tape, she was set onto the floor for a test run. On the lab's tile flooring and even the concrete outside, Trinity was far too focused on the plastic contraption strapped to her to be able to walk properly, not to mention find any traction. The most she would do was lift her back leg up against her and hobble like she normally did.

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Dr. Mayuri Kerr adjusts Trinity's prosthetic.

Trinity's cautious attitude changed when Zach suggested that they all go out onto the grass and let her try out the peg leg there. The moment she set foot on the grass, Trinity was bounding along, entirely distracted by her surroundings. She managed to put weight on the one-inch leg, though in her enthusiasm still managed to wiggle out of the plastic base holding the peg leg in place.

This was not Trinity's last fitting, but everyone involved in the project is optimistic that the perfect balance will be found eventually.


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