Conceptualizing a redesigned guide dog harness

Through the ether, a university student has found my blog and has asked for help with her school project. I think it’s an awesome idea for a project, and volunteered to help pass the word and help her gather information. Here’s what she wrote when I asked her why she was asking the questions she asked, I will post after her description:

“The reason why I need the feedback from the users is that I am a Industrial Design Student at U of I and I am working on an International Housewares Student Design Competition. I picked Pets category at first and found out that most of the pet products are overpriced and unnecessary after volunteered to help at a pet show in Taiwan . Then I saw the flyer of a Guide Dog Organization and I realized how meaningful guide dogs are yet not many people have noticed it. So after some research, I decided to redesign the Guide Dog harness. Users feedback are one of the most important part in a design process. I need to know how the users feel and think to be able to put myself into their shoe. Beth has been helping me a lot through this process. However, I need more of a variety of users experience that is why I made this survey.”

Isn’t that cool???
The Beth referred to is Beth fink who had contacted me before about Eva’s project, and gave Eva the link to a post I wrote about a day Jayden and I had.

If I’m not being very coherant, my apologies. I’ve been fighting a migraine since yesterday.

Anyway, Eva needs our help gathering information for her project, due at the end of the year. She’s sent me some of her concepts, which I have to say are pretty darned cool.

Here’s her survey, copied from her comment

“1. How long have you been having a Guide Dog? How many harnesses have you used before?

2. Do you have an offset handle or straight one? Do you like it the way it is? Why?

3. Do you clean the harness? Why or why not?

4. Would you like to have different material and/or shape for the handle part for more comfort? Would you prefer to hold the handle vertically?

5. How do you buckle up the harness? Where do you hold the leash when buckle up the harness? Do you use both hand to buckle up?

6. Do you have a trekker GPA navigation system? If not, why? If yes, how do you like it?

7. Lastly, do you have any problem with the harness you are using? (left arm does not feel comfortable after holding the harness after a while? Hand gets sweaty from holding the handle? Dog developed lumps from wearing the harness?….etc)

Thank you so much for taking time doing this survey.
Much appreciate your help.”

If you are so inclined to answer her questions, you can leave your answers in a comment here, or email her at: eva617 at gmail dot com

She gave me her email with permission and I’ve spaced it out here so she doesn’t get spam bombed. Please feel free to link to this post if you think others might want to participate on this project. Ok, here are my answers:

1. How long have you been having a Guide Dog? How many harnesses have you used before?

I’ve had my first guide dog for about nine months and have used one harness.

2. Do you have an offset handle or straight one? Do you like it the way it is? Why?

I have an offset handle. When I first began training with Jayden, I used a straight handle and didn’t know the difference. Then one day the school asked if I’d like to try the offset and I did and it was instantly much more comfortable. My arm seems to be in a more natural position, with my palm angling more towards my body. With the straight handle, my palm faced straight out behind me. This position was quite unnatural and caused pain. The offset is just much more comfortable for me, and also helps me walk closer to Jayden without stepping on him, since I can hold my arm closer to my body.

3. Do you clean the harness? Why or why not?

*Sheepish grin* I have not cleaned the harness yet. I think it’s mainly because I haven’t felt that it’s dirty. Since I do everything by touch, I can usually feel when something is grimy and I can’t stand it, so I clean. But the harness just hasn’t felt icky, so I haven’t cleaned it.

4. Would you like to have different material and/or shape for the handle part for more comfort? Would you prefer to hold the handle vertically?

Vertically, I’ve never thought about that. I’m not really sure how that would work, but it might be fun to try it. I think having some variety in how you could position the handle might come in handy, since we all naturally change positions. It might help to be able to move the wrist or the arm during long periods of work. I haven’t really thought about the material and using a different kind.

5. How do you buckle up the harness? Where do you hold the leash when buckle up the harness? Do you use both hand to buckle up?

If we are inside, and I don’t need to control Jayden, I put on the harness before his leash is attached. If we’re out and I take the harness on or off, I was trained to step on his leash to control his movement and keep him from walking off. I use both hands, since I use my hands to see and guide the pieces together. I don’t think it would be possible to buckle it with one hand. Maybe, but I need both hands to do just about anything, since one hand acts as “eyes” and guides the other hand.

6. Do you have a trekker GPA navigation system? If not, why? If yes, how do you like it?

Nope, too expensive. I just use a good old fashioned braille compass.

7. Lastly, do you have any problem with the harness you are using? (left arm does not feel comfortable after holding the harness after a while? Hand gets sweaty from holding the handle? Dog developed lumps from wearing the harness?….etc)

I haven’t noticed any problems with Jayden developing any problems. One of my biggest complaints is adjusting the belly strap. There’s a buckle along with the quick release clip. The buckle is for adjusting the looseness or tightness around Jay’s belly. It’s rather difficult to do, but I’ve only had to do it wonce and really the dog’s weight shouldn’t fluctuate much, so it’s not a gigantic deal. Jayden just filled out a bit after we got home.

My palm does get a little sweaty, and my arm gets sore, but that all depends on what kind of day it is. If Jayden is working beautifully in a place I’m familiar with, there’s no discomfort. If Jayden is working a little off, or we’re in a place I’m a little uncomfortable, there’s more pain because I’m tense.

I used to drive, so I can make the steering wheel analogy. You know when you’re in terrible traffic, you’re on high alert and you grip your steering wheel a little tighter maybe. You might “white knuckle it” when driving is stressful. I find I do that with jayden sometimes too. I have to remember to shake out my arm a bit here and there. Other than that, I don’t have any complaints, because frankly, I don’t know any different. 🙂

***

I’ll paste the survey without my comments at the bottom of this post, so it’ll be a little easier to answer. Plese take the time to answer if you can. It’s nice to think that someone out there is thinking about us, and I can’t wait to see what grade she gets! 😉

Again, you can answer in the comments here, she’ll be checking, or email Eva at the address provided above. Please feel free to link to this post on your blog as well.

Here’s the empty survey:

1. How long have you been having a Guide Dog? How many harnesses have you used before?

2. Do you have an offset handle or straight one? Do you like it the way it is? Why?

3. Do you clean the harness? Why or why not?

4. Would you like to have different material and/or shape for the handle part for more comfort? Would you prefer to hold the handle vertically?

5. How do you buckle up the harness? Where do you hold the leash when buckle up the harness? Do you use both hand to buckle up?

6. Do you have a trekker GPA navigation system? If not, why? If yes, how do you like it?

7. Lastly, do you have any problem with the harness you are using? (left arm does not feel comfortable after holding the harness after a while? Hand gets sweaty from holding the handle? Dog developed lumps from wearing the harness?….etc)

Yes, I posted the survey three times. Blame the migraine lol!

11 Comments

Filed under cool blinky stuff, gratitude, guide dogs, Jayden, NaBloPoMo 2010, plugs, survey says

11 Responses to Conceptualizing a redesigned guide dog harness

  1. Eva Foo

    Thank you so much Ro! Someone has emailed me already! Im so excited!
    Hope you feel better soon.

    Best,
    Eva

  2. Ro

    Sweeeet! I hope you get some good response!!

  3. Ro and Eva — this is awesome! Will be happy to do so. I’ll email you Eva and post it on my blog as well. Confession – wash the harness? Now, that’s an idea!

    Hope your migraine subsides SOON, Ro.

  4. Ro

    Yay thanks Becky! My head is better thank God. Migraine ruined Thanksgiving, unfortunately, and lingered into today, but it’s subsiding.

  5. I emailed her too. Heheh, I haven’t cleaned the harness either. Had to clean the leash when I kinda had an awful flu that made me hurl everywhere, but never have washed the harness. I don’t own leather cleaner. I should.

  6. This is a great idea, Eva, and Ro (for posting this on your blog)! While I am not a guide dog handler (I raise puppies for Leader Dogs for the Blind), I took the liberty of writing about Eva’s project on my blog, with a link to Ro’s post. Hopefully Eva will get more information!

    Here’s the link to my post: http://playswithpuppies.blogspot.com/2010/11/student-working-to-redesign-guide-dog.html

    Good luck!

  7. Ro

    Awesome, thank you!!

  8. Jen

    Suppose you all have leather harnesses?
    Ours are easier to clean. I just chuck mine in the washing machine (only about 3 times a year when I remember) and it cleans a bit anyway.

  9. Ro

    Whoa, what is your harness made out of?

  10. I am currently on the waiting list for my first dog from SAGA (South African guide dog association) and have looked at several harnesses, SAGA uses the British leather harnass, which I plan on replacing with an american sports harnass as soon as I can have one made.

  11. Ro

    Interesting. I never thought about using a different harness other than the one I trained with.

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