Ashley Liberto and her golden retriever Bentley have been inseparable since she got him as a puppy 8 years ago.
“He follows me around the house. He’s so full of life and energy, and he simply loves everybody,” Liberto tells PEOPLE about the pet.
So when he began limping a couple of months earlier, she panicked.
“The vet thought it was arthritis, and then his elbow swelled, and they did an x-ray and found a soft tissue sarcoma,” the devoted canine owner claims.
A subsequent MRI and biopsy confirmed the terrible diagnosis– cancer in Bentley’s right elbow. The golden retriever would certainly need to have the affected limb amputated.
“I don’t have kids; he’s my kid. It was terrible. It was emotionally exhausting. I was crying every night,” the middle school math teacher claims.
Luckily, the surgery succeeded, with the operating veterinarian leaving the treatment confident that all the cancer was removed.
The golden retriever’s doctors informed Liberto that Bentley would take around 2 weeks to recover.
“As soon as he came out to see me, he hobbled along, and he simply adjusted. We have a tennis court, and the 2nd day he was home, he pulled me to the tennis court to get balls to play. He just has this will to live,” Liberto says of her pet’s healing.
After Bentley was on the move again, Liberto started joining support groups for “tripod canines” and researching prosthetics. When she saw the price of custom canine prosthetics, the teacher at Providence Day School in Charlotte, North Carolina, connected to some of her former students for aid with a more cost-effective option.
Providence Day School has a class concentrated on computer-aided design and 3-D printing. The teacher, Todd Johnson, says it’s an introductory level class that teaches students to make standard shapes– like keychains– using the technology. But when Liberto recommended attempting to make a prosthetic leg for her golden retriever, the students were eager to help and attempt something new.
“I believed it was a fantastic opportunity for the students to see a real-world application for what they’re learning at school. I recognized once the students covered their heads around it, they would develop styles that are viable services,” Johnson says.
The class separated into small groups to find up with designs for Bentley. Team leader Brandon Hollis and his group came up with the winning design. Hollis, who had taken 6th-grade math with Liberto, was inspired to assist his former teacher and her beloved dog.
“There was a very real link simply seeing Bentley when he came into class, and knowing I was going to have the ability to assist him was something unique,” Hollis says.
Hollis’ team invested weeks creating a harness and a prosthetic leg for Bentley.
“It fit way far better than I could have wished for. It still needs some small tweaks, and afterwards it needs to fit completely,” Hollis informs individuals of the near-final product.
The students wish to have actually a completed custom, comfy prosthetic for Bentley in the next couple of weeks. Even though the class has finished, the teenage designers have actually continued the job on their own time.
“It’s pretty cool. A great deal of times, we do these type of jobs and don’t reach think about it as doing much or helping somebody, and after that Bentley showed up, and it was like, we’re doing this to assist somebody and help such a wonderful canine,” Reed Nobili, another student working on the prosthetic, claims.
Liberto is thrilled.
“Oh my gosh, seeing what they developed was so moving. I cried. Our kids are so clever, and the fact they can take what they’re discovering in the classroom and see it in real-life scenarios– it’s really moving.