How to help puppies become guide dogs in France

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Each year, the French Federation of Associations of Guide Dogs for the Blind gives around 230 highly qualified guide dogs to visually impaired people. It is a member of the International Federation of Guide Dogs and has 10 regional associations, which have 17 schools between them and a network of breeding centers.Associations are often looking for volunteers to take care of the puppies at home in order to prepare them for specialized training in schools from the age of one year. Volunteers teach the dog basic home training and sociability, and the school teaches the dog to respond to 50 commands, including finding a seat for a person on the street and recognizing bumps in a sidewalk.

Rewarding and collaborative

Ural, treated by Claudine de Ligne. Uncredited.

Claudine de Ligne, from Angers, has been a volunteer host for 18 years and said: “It is a serious business but so interesting and it is a wonderful reward to see the dog you have helped train with its new owner. The volunteer foster families are well supported and Ms. de Ligne said: “The trainers come to our house and we take the puppies to school about once a week. We make sure that the dog will respond to commands, behave well and not run after cats, jump on the couch or eat anything from the table. ”

“The whole family should join with us so that the dog does not get conflicting orders. It takes a lot of time and energy to care for the young dog and it is a big responsibility because any mistakes in the puppy’s early childhood can reappear later when the dog is with its visually impaired owner. It would be difficult to combine it with a full time job. ”

“I was at home raising my family and it worked well for me. Anyone who is retired and active can do that too. At around two years of age, the dog must pass a test before being returned to its visually impaired owner.

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Dogs stay after retirement

They retire at around 10 years of age but often stay with their owner or family as a pet. If this is not possible, guide dog associations look for other volunteers to welcome them. About one percent of people with vision problems may have a guide dog, which can be life changing.

The federation’s communications manager, Geneviève Lapauw, said: “Guide dogs give their owner confidence in the street, facilitate human contact, because people love to come and ask questions about the dog and they are a precious companion. . Each dog costs around € 25,000 to train and is given free of charge to the person in need but it is part of the training school throughout its life.

The federation depends on donations from individuals since it receives no government funding. For more details, visit Chienguides.fr.

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