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Sisters HS class em-barks on project to create prosthetic leg for teacher’s dog

(Update: Adding video, comment from teacher, students, prosthetist)

SISTERS, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A class at Sisters High School is taking on a unique final project: Building a prosthetic leg for their teacher's dog.

“This is Ralston Franco Chinchen, also known as Rally,” Jason Chinchen, the classes’ teacher said Monday as he introduced the dog. “I rescued him from the Yakima pound about four years ago.”

Rally is a calm and fairly affectionate pound dog, with one defining trait.

“Apparently, he was running wild and he got hit by a car, and the people tied him up, so he chewed his foot off,” Chinchen told NewsChannel 21.

Rally can get around a room, but he’s obviously limited. So Chinchen, an career technical education teacher at Sisters High School, is asking his students to help him.

“When I started teaching this engineering class, it just dawned on me that it might be a really fun project, and the kids might be able to use their engineering and design skills that they’ve been learning all semester,” he said.

So the class's project will be to design, prototype and build a prosthetic leg for Rally.

Junior Elana Mansfield said, “I just thought it was a really great opportunity, and something we could do for the school, and do for other people and other dogs. And bringing back some of his mobility is just a nice plus.”

The class brought in certified prosthetist/orthotist Matt Keirstead from Summit Medical to help guide them.

“Potentially, we could take advantage of any flare, for lack of a better term, above where the socket goes,” Keirstead said during his presentation.

And the students are thrilled for the real-world experience.

Freshman Cooper Merrill said, “It’s important to have a real application, where we are actually going to change something in the world.”

Fellow first-year Stepan Myagkov added, “It’s awesome to have a dog around, play around with it, check all of the measurements. Now we’re putting together the mold.”

There’s only two weeks left in the class, but Chinchen wants to keep the momentum going.

“We’re hoping we can make this a thing we do in the future, with all of my design and engineering classes,” he said.

Next up: Chinchen's other three-legged dog, Charlie.

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Jack Hirsh

Jack Hirsh is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Jack here.



    1. The kids are wanting to use their Brains. That is not stupid. Maybe it will work and save some of the dogs hip that gets over abused. Don’t you know hopping isn’t good? You probably aren’t missing a leg.

      1. Prosthetics for animals are several thousand dollars. This teacher just convinced a bunch of children to make one for free? That’s not ethical, Barney! My comment also isn’t rude or wrong.

        1. Of course it’s rude. But that’s how you roll. And you might be gone from here if you can’t be civil and show minimal respect. Others have complained, in responses or privately, about your posts, which are as wrong as you are about me. I’m not about to retire, Lord willing – my bosses support me fully, as do many in the community. If you can’t post non-offensive posts, you may have to go elsewhere. I even thanked you for your tips, but you still attack me personally. I delete most of those, of course. It won’t last, I promise.

        2. How can you possibly put a negative spin on this story? What am I saying? That’s what you do. Skeptics and cynics contribute nothing, produce nothing, create nothing. You just drives sad, pathetic and spiteful pleasure trying to rain on others’ parades. But in the end, you are the only one who’s all wet.

          1. I’m going to take this as an in-general comment and not a personal attack, but please be careful, Bill. I don’t allow all the comments he tries to post targeting me, because … well, they are offensive personal attacks.

  1. There are LITERALLY veterinary prosthetists/orthotists who would have LOVED the free marketing and exposure of being consulted on this, but sure, use a human one who only deals with bipeds instead. Because of the hubris everyone has, including human healthcare professionals (and teachers now apparently), that they are qualified to not only understand but successfully manipulate and simulate the correct biomechanics and force dynamics of the canine gait. After all, it’s just a dog; how hard can it be?

    It’s right up there with wildlife biologists practicing veterinary medicine without a license, and effectively zero actual oversight by a legit licensed veterinarian at all because, government employee and therefore exempt. Loved recently reading about a bunch of wildlife biologists in WA “reversing” an opiate narcotic sedative used in elk with naltrexone instead of naloxone because they sound the same so must be the same if both antagonists, right? Right? Derp.

    1. DRM,
      Thanks for your concern! As the teacher in question, maybe I can clarify a few things for you.
      Rally does not “need” a prosthetic, this is merely a challenging project to get my students thinking about engineering design.
      We are extremely grateful to the kind gentleman who came to tell our students about the process and materials needed for this kind of project. If I had been able to find a vet or animal prosthetic maker in Central Oregon who could come to my class I would gladly have them involved in the project.
      Some of your points are valid and I appreciate your concern and viewpoint, but I hope you understand better now that this is “creative play” at this point, designed to inspire tomorrow’s adults.
      If we continue this in the future I will certainly have made connections and relationships with the appropriate experts in order to be making a difference without causing harm.
      Jason Chinchen

      1. Thank you for your post, Jason – much appreciated. I do plead “guilty” to at times trying to protect those kind enough to speak with us from the worst of the toxic side of anonymous commenting systems. Or who would ever want to go on camera for interviews?

      2. This is a fantastic project. Get the students motivated and see what they come up with. And how it could motivate them in the future. And a teacher doing what a good teacher does. Nice!

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