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  1. ITV Report

Dog with robotic legs walks again after pioneering treatment

A vet has transformed a dog's life by giving him futuristic robotic legs so he can walk again.

Robbie, an 11-year-old Shetland sheepdog, had been a regular patient at the vets for five years, suffering from problems including paw injuries, skin tumours and orthopaedic issues.

After painkillers, surgery, antibiotics and hormone replacement failed to give Robbie a sufficient quality of life, owner Sharman Steel, 63, was at her wit's end.

But now Robbie is Britain's first official bionic hound, after having his back legs strengthened with a state-of-the-art exoskeleton.

For various reasons Robbie got Cushing's disease which can cause muscles to get floppy.

He had operations on his hind legs which should have been routine operations, but because of the Cushing's he didn't heal well, the bones didn't knit.

He could still walk, but it wasn't very comfortable for him.

– Sharman Steel, owner

Pete van Dongen, clinical director of Pennard Vets in Sevenoaks, Kent, came to the rescue, by suggesting that Robbie had 'orthotics', or orthopaedic braces, fitted.

Now, Robbie the 'Robo-Dog' has a new lease of life and can walk safely without causing any damage to his hind legs.

He is no doubt one of very few dogs in the UK, if not the only one, walking with two artificial feet.

It's not quite The Supervet, but very close.

– Pete van Dongen, vet

The dog had to have casts of his legs taken in order to manufacture the precisely fitting orthotics.

He is now walking well on his legs and he can even sit and lie down and get up again, he seems happy and content.

He will wear the orthotics whenever he goes out with his mum and little Robbie gets to be 'Robo-Dog'.

– Pete van Dongen, vet

Owner, Sharman Steel, a retired teacher from Chislehurst, south east London, said:

They are more sort of splints, but we call them his boots.

He's only just got both of them and he's doing really well, even with his funny legs he's still so energetic.

In fact, had he had them to begin with he wouldn't have even needed his operation.

It's pioneering treatment, and is really good for dogs who have healing problems so it will help loads of dogs - it's so good I could get this at my normal vet.

– Sharman Steel, owner