Flint township, Michigan - Peg, a four-month-old puppy born without an ankle joint or right paw, will always have "a little hitch in her giddyup", says Rex Miller.

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, the owner of the Greater Flint Prosthetic Centre, 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 that used in bulletproof vests.

Veterinarians with Baker College's training programme put Peg under anaesthesia 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 non-profit organisation.

Beavnier trains dogs to become guide dogs for the blind. Peg eventually will be a therapy dog, visiting nursing home patients. "She loves to hug and kiss and play ball," Beavnier said.

Beavnier tried to create a homemade artificial leg, using bandages and a plastic cone, but it never worked. So she looked up a website 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. - Sapa-AP