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In my previous blog, I excitedly announced that my family had been accepted to become a foster family (famille d’accueil) to a Service Dog in training. But before embarking on this adventure and major commitment, I attended several “portes ouverts” at Le Copain and local demonstrations in Geneva; I followed their Facebook page and spoke to foster families as well as recipients.

Pictures from the annual Journée de Conseils aux propriétaires de chiens at Plainpalais in April:

The moment I truly believed in this program was when a woman spoke to my daughter about the physical pain and loneliness of her illness and how her dog changed her life. First, he can pick up items that she can’t always reach. I saw him grab a two franc coin from the ground that she had dropped and eagerly give it back to her. Secondly, before he came into her life she had little motivation to leave her home when she was in pain but because Le Copain has rules about the dog’s well-being, she walks him at least two hours a day. By forcing herself to leave her appartment she finds that physically and mentally her well-being has dramatically improved. And lastly, she spoke about how her dog made her visible in society and approachable on the street. Children first see her dog and then her wheel chair; which suddenly becomes a lot less scary.

Le Copain is always looking for foster families and donations. They have over 300 dogs serving people throughout Switzerland.

If you are interested in becoming a “famille d’accueil,” consider the following points that in my opinion are the most challenging:

  1. This puppy is a full time responsibility for 12 to 15 months.
  2. You must be able to take the puppy everywhere with you; especially in the city, on public transportation, near animals, children and noisy places.
  3. Commit to one morning a week of obedience training in French; plus once-a-week puppy socialization for the first three months. Then continue the training at home.
  4. The puppy will live in your house and you must be able to accept dog sitting exchanges with other foster families.

Once you agree to Le Copain’s rules and regulations, your family will be interviewed by the local organizers and trainers. Then, if you’re accepted maybe we’ll be in the same training group!

For more information, you can visit Le Copain’s website here.

We are a group of international women living in Geneva, Switzerland. If you would like to join the AIWC, please visit our website at http://www.aiwcgeneva.org/