FLINT TOWNSHIP, Mich. – Peg, a 4-month-old puppy born without an ankle joint or right paw, will always have "a little hitch in her giddyup," Rex Miller says.
But Miller, who makes artificial limbs for humans, wants to use his skills to help Peg. "She'll be able to walk and run better," said Miller, who lost his own right leg trying to jump a train when he was 15.
Miller, owner of the Greater Flint Prosthetic Center, made a cast last week that will guide him on how to make a new leg for Peg.
Making an artificial leg for a puppy can be tricky. It could be attached to the dog's leg with a harness or a Velcro-type material. To prevent her from chewing on the leg, it will be made of material similar to bulletproof vests.
Veterinarians with Baker College's training program put Peg under anesthesia and took X-rays to help Miller make the leg. Baker joined Miller in doing the work for free because Peg's owner, Carol Beavnier, works for a nonprofit organization.
Beavnier trains dogs to become leader dogs for the blind. Peg eventually will be a therapy dog, visiting nursing home patients. "She loves to hug and kiss and play tug and ball," Beavnier said.
Beavnier, of Macomb County's Macomb Township, tried to create a homemade artificial leg, using bandages and a plastic cone, but it never worked. So she looked up a Web site for handicapped pets and a few phone calls later found Miller.
"I want people to know this option is out there," Beavnier said.
Miller said such work would normally cost several thousand dollars.