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UW-Madison students create cart for dog without front legs

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MADISON (WKOW) -- A dog born without front legs is getting the gift of mobility this holiday season.

UW-Madison College of Engineering students created a cart with wheels for Louie, the 4-year-old Nova Scotia duck trolling retriever mix.

The dog's owners, Pat and Pete Sammataro, saw a previous story about engineering students creating prosthetic legs for a cat named Sgt. Stubbs and contacted the college.

“We just want him to be able to go on walks and sniff around the neighborhood like any other dog,” Pat said. “It will really enhance his quality of life.”

Louie used a cart in the past, but it didn't suit him. When the students saw it, they knew there was a better way to help him.

“He just didn’t like it,” Pete said. “It’s kind of complicated to set up and get on him. I think that made him anxious and he wouldn’t use it.”

The engineering students were able to remove half the cart and adjust it to accommodate Louie's posture. They also added a small wheel for stability, padding for comfort and a calming vest to help him get used to it.

Students said they learned a lot during the project.

“I want to go into biomedical engineering, and working on prosthetics is a huge part of that,” Jessica Nienhaus said. “You have to think about biological things that go into it. For example, the way he’s going to move where his back legs are up—that’s just natural to him. We also have to think a lot about overheating and his overall comfort. It’s nice to be able to put all of that together with the engineering side of it."

Louie walks in the cart with some guidance and doggie treats for encouragement.

Rebecca Ribley

Wake Up Wisconsin Anchor

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