A local two-legged puppy tumbled his way into the hearts of millions two years ago after garnering international media attention. Nearly two years later, he no longer uses the wheels the Ohio University Innovation Center 3-D-printed for him.
Tumbles was born without his front legs. Because of his disability, he would get pushed out of the way by his brother and sister when he was trying to nurse, forcing his owner to give him up to a foster home.
Karen Pilcher, who was on the board of the Athens Friends of Shelter Dogs, has been by Tumbles' side since he was four weeks old. She officially adopted him last December. He’ll be two years old soon.
Pilcher and some other members of the Athens Friends of Shelter Dogs created a Facebook page for Tumbles in November 2015, when he was six weeks old. An engineer saw the page and designed wheels to help Tumbles’ mobility. He brought his idea to the OU Innovation Center, who agreed to create the wheels using 3-D printing.
“OU was wonderful,” Pilcher said. “They only charged us for the materials for the wheels, not the labor. It only cost around $250, whereas other wheels are much more expensive.”
A video of Tumbles wheeling around began circulating the internet; before Pilcher knew it, she was the mother to a viral star.
“He was everywhere,” she said. “We got messages on Facebook and friends from all over the world. He was in the papers in England, Brazil, Germany, Ireland.”
Even though the wheels are adjustable and will last his lifetime, Pilcher said Tumbles doesn’t like to use them very much anymore. They inhibit his mobility, she said, and he much prefers hopping and pushing himself on his stomach. In the past few months, he also began walking on his back paws.
“He doesn’t know any different,” she said. “The thing that makes him great is his personality. There’s a lot of two legged dogs, and they all have great personality. They’re fighters.”
Tumbles now lives with three other dogs and 19 cats.
“They all get along great,” Pilcher said. “He’s just so happy about everything.”