CRNY: A story about a Cavaletti and a website.
DEFINING THE PROBLEMS
Canine Rehab of New York wanted to build a simple website that highlighted their pet rehabilitation facility, described their services in detail, introduced site visitors to their staff, and allowed prospective customers register to become new patients. They also needed a website that they could easily update themselves. Additionally, they needed help to design and develop an apparatus for physical rehabilitation therapy.
Canine Rehab of New York is a canine rehab facility located in the Upper West Side of Manhattan. As an off shoot of Gotham Veterinary Center, Canine Rehab of New York wanted to build a website showcasing the benefits of pet rehabilitation. Increasing the quality of lives for pets and their owners was paramount to founder Dr. Bonnie Brown. My goal was to help them design and build a simple, yet attractive website that would enable them to easily update their site content as needed. As an owner of a couple of Golden Retrievers, one of whom just happens to be a patient, I knew the benefits of rehabilitation well along with having an established relationship with Dr. Brown and her energetic staff.
I consulted Dr. Brown ans the CRNY as I designed and built a wooden Cavaletti, which essentially is an inverted ladder with removable rungs, for their staff to use with canine patients during agility exercises.
Traditionally, a Cavaletti is a wooden jump that horse trainers typically use to improve the agility, balance, coordination, and musculoskeletal strength of their horses. Dog trainers and rehab facilities use smaller obstacles to help train and rehab canines. Dr. Brown and the CRNY team had been using an inferior plastic setup that was prone to falling down during use, problematic, and poorly made. After using a colleague’s hand built Cavaletti in Northern California, Dr. Brown commissioned me to design and build a Cavaletti for CRNY.
I spoke extensively with Dr. Brown and the rehab facility in Northern California, along with researching existing products and self made implementations online. I visited a horse farm to see larger versions in use, along with breaking down where the current product was failing. I then sketched out several iterations to help design a prototype which I constructed from two by fours, PVC tubing, adjustable wooden legs, and hardware.
As with designing digital products, I conducted my own User Testing by walking my dog Louie through the Cavaletti. I was able to determine the break points, design flaws, and improvements to make. I quickly learned that the entire apparatus was top-heavy and awkward, and the colored rungs were too thick and distracting, and difficult for one person to setup. This initial prototype, much like digital designs, needed to be used and reviewed by the client. We noted how the device was maneuvered, used, and stored within the CRNY facility. Storage space is a premium, which became more obvious after attempting to use the Cavaletti with a few other clients.
After several improvement tweaks, I constructed version two of the prototype. Version two was made with lighter two by fours, smaller PVC rungs and caps, and galvanized steel. After completing production and testing, I again successfully tested the Cavaletti with Louie and a few friends. The Cavaletti was delivered in June, 2019 and has been in daily use ever since.