This Guy Used 3D Printing to Help His 18-Year-Old Blind Pup Get Around Safely

This Guy Used 3D Printing to Help His 18-Year-Old Blind Pup Get Around Safely
Sienna, a Pomeranian who is old enough to vote and weighs just 2 lbs (0.9 kg), is pictured wearing a 3D-printed safety hoop made by her owner, Chad Lalande. The device attaches to her harness and keeps her from banging into walls, but definitely took some getting used to, he said. (Photo: Chad Lalande)

You know, 3D printing has produced some wild stuff over the years, from itty bitty spacecraft and candy-firing wrist cannons to entire homes and personal protective equipment. But while some creations have been absolutely cursed (I’m looking at you, tongue brush), this safety hoop made to help a senior pup get around is about as wholesome as it gets.

Amateur designer Chad Lalande made the device using a Creality Ender 5 3D+ printer to stop his 18-year-old pomeranian, Sienna, from accidentally banging into walls and doorframes.

“I just saw a need and went about solving that need,” Lalande told Gizmodo via email.

In his design, your pet’s head goes through the centre hoop, which is surrounded by a larger hoop held in place by an arm that goes over the top. The rest of the device fits over the back of your pet and has three slots to slide harness straps through to attach it.

Lalande said this isn’t the first time he’s created assistive devices for pups. There was the time when his sister’s dog started having trouble walking, struggling to lift his feet so much that he would often trip over them. To help out, Lalande made a set of boots that attached to the dog’s harness via elastic bands to give him a little extra assistance with each step. His dad’s pup eventually began experiencing some mobility issues too, so Lalande constructed a makeshift doggy wheelchair out of a harness and aluminium rods to help the dog get around more easily.

There are a few anti-collision hoops for pets already on the market, but they can get pricey and options can be limited for a dog of Sienna’s miniature size. Also, Sienna hates anything going near her head, according to Lalande, so he knew using some kind of head-mounted device was a no-go.

Using a 3D printer like the one he got over the holidays makes coming up with and iterating on his designs much less of a hassle, he said. He went through five versions of Sienna’s safety hoop trying to get the design, which he cooked up using LightWave 3D and Cura, just right. The first few were too narrow to keep her from poking her head over the sides of the hoop and bumping into things. So he widened and lengthened the hoop so she could still move her head freely while remaining protected on all sides. By then, though, the hoop was getting so big that it started to droop toward the floor when she ran. Lalande, who had been sharing his design process online, said a fellow member in a 3D-printing Facebook group gave him the idea to attach an arm going over the top of the hoop to help hold it up. That solution would also help prevent another problem he’d run into: Sienna managing to lodge the front of the hoop under doors and get herself stuck.

You can see the design’s progression in the image below.

Photo: Chad Lalande Photo: Chad Lalande

The finished product successfully protects her from bumping into things while still allowing her to prance about as she pleases. The only downside is that it works a little too well — she can’t get to her food or water bowl with the safety hoop on, so it needs to be periodically taken off throughout the day, Lalande said. Oh, and the jury is still out as far as Sienna herself is concerned.

“Sienna is still getting used to wearing it, but she complains less about it now,” Lalande said. “She’s 18 years old so she may not be around much longer, but if I can make her more comfortable in the time she has, all the better.”

Since it was made with such a small pet in mind, the design might not scale correctly for bigger animals, he warned, and also cautioned that “as with most things for animals, supervision is a must!”

You can find the final design here on Thingiverse if you’re interested in printing one for your own pet. If you do, you are legally obligated to share pictures of them in the comments. Sorry, I don’t make the rules.