At Dog Quality, our love for senior dogs is obvious. All our products are developed out of a desire to make the later years as full and comfortable as possible. So as you’d expect, our Dog Quality staff are people who are passionate about giving elderly dogs the dignity they deserve.
This month, we’d like to switch up our usual informative post with a Dog Quality Team Member Spotlight. Get to know who’s who behind the scenes at Dog Quality! We introduce to you the newest member of our Dog Quality family: meet our co-op student, Collin Bilinski.
Collin approached us after seeing our ad on the co-op job board at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada. A 2nd year civil engineering student, Collin was drawn to our post right away.
“It stood out to me because it was a very unique job. I care about animals, so it was a way to make a difference. My first impressions were that it was a very unique and meaningful job from a company with a lot of heart and character,” he shares.
Saying he cares about animals is an understatement. Collin has one dog and two cats, all rescue animals from Qatar where he lived as an Canadian expat for a lot of his childhood. Collin’s dog, Farrah, is getting to be a senior dog now, and though — in his words — she is very lazy and sleeps most of the day, Collin says she is still pretty independent.
“Fortunately, she has not had any mobility issues,” he explains, “but caring for dogs — and older dogs especially — is something on my radar. That was one reason that drew me to working here.”
So what does Collin do at Dog Quality? His official title is Product Development Engineer and what he’s specifically been working on is Dog Quality’s Road Warrior dog wheelchair. The Road Warrior is the first four-wheeled dog wheelchair in Canada, the prototype developed for Dog Quality by a group of BCIT researchers. Led by Silvia Raschke, an expert in medical devices, the prototype took about a year to develop and was finished in 2020.
Up to now, dog wheelchairs on the market mainly target dogs with rear leg issues, requiring the dog to support themselves with their front end. These wheelchairs can be life-changing for young dogs that have strong upper body strength but aren’t suitable for senior dogs who are often too weak to benefit from this design. Dog Quality’s Road Warrior is unique with its four wheels, feather-light carbon fiber frame and a special support harness. The Road Warrior harness allows a senior dog to get full body, all-leg stability in a device designed with their limitations and needs in mind.
Collin is working from the BCIT prototype to create a medium-sized Road Warrior. Once ready, the Road Warrior will come in sizes xxsmall to large to accommodate dogs of all shapes and sizes. Collin shares that he’s created CAD (computer aided design) drawings for the medium-sized Road Warrior, and CAD files for parts like the chest plate for all sizes. He’s also made adjustments to the existing design and costed out parts.
The Road Warrior is designed to assist senior dogs who can still walk but have elderly dog mobility issues from ailments like arthritis, hip dysplasia, or just overall muscle weakness. But for dogs who are paralyzed and can’t walk at all, Collin has brainstormed some modifications that could allow them to move around and have a sense of freedom.
In his development role for the Road Warrior, Collin is not only responsible for drafting plans and designs for the medium size, he’s also been working on physical prototyping using a variety of means. He says, “I have been working on creating a new prototype of the size medium utilizing 3D printing, laser cutting, and CNC machining to create the test parts.”
Collin says the biggest challenge so far has been fine-tuning different parts so they can work well with the dog wheelchair as a whole and also stylistically match all sizes. He says, “This involved a lot of tweaking curves or dimensions slightly, making alternative versions, and even printing them on paper to get a sense of how it all looks in the real world.”
Up next for Collin at Dog Quality is creating the instruction manuals for the Road Warrior, bringing us even closer to launching our unique wheelchair for senior dogs. Except for the physical prototyping — which he did at a nearby shop — Collin has been working remotely from his home in Victoria.
Working at Dog Quality on an innovative wheelchair for senior dogs has been an enjoyable experience for Collin. “I like working for such a unique and upbeat company and I like that my skills are a good fit for the task I do, but that I am also learning a lot of new things,” he reflects. Sounds like a perfect co-op experience to us, and one that will result in many happy senior dogs out and about.
To find out more about the Road Warrior for your senior dog, contact us today.