The guide dog, "a companion who brings his master more freedom"

Founded in 1972, FFAC (French Federation of Associations Guide Dogs for the Blind) has been helping to provide guide dogs for the visually impaired for the last 40 years.

The vast majority of dogs, Labradors and Golden Retrievers, are social , and offer invaluable support to those they accompany on a daily basis.

Paul Charles , the President of the Federation, has agreed to answer AllCreatureAnimalClinic's questions. He tells us more about the missions of the FFAC , its operation, the dogs trained by the federated schools, and all the actors of this beautiful chain of solidarity to give free dozens of guide dogs every year

What is FFAC?

What is FFAC? How does it work?

The French Federation of Guide Dog Associations (FFAC), founded in 1972 and Recognized for Public Utility in 1981, federates:

- Ten Dog Schools Guide of the Blind

- The National Association of Masters of Dogs Blind Guides (ANMCGA)

- And a National Center of Breeding (CESECAH)

All these entities have chosen to to join together by creating a Federation to harmonize and coordinate at the national level:

- the promotion of the Guide Dog to potential users and the general public

- the operation and development of Guide Dog schools, respecting a common code of ethics

- the training of educators of Guide Dogs (certified title of level III),

- the selection and breeding of puppies

- the recognition of this means of autonomous locomotion by the public authorities

Through these missions, the Federation helps its members to give free Quality Guide Dogs for blind and visually impaired people who are able to use it, and thus enable them to better integrate into society

F.F.A.C. is animated by a Board of Directors made up of around 20 volunteer representatives from the affiliated associations.

Donations and legacies constitute the main resources of the FFAC and allow:

- to support the schools of guide dogs Subsidized Affiliates

- Train Guide Dog Educators (2 years alternately)

- Fund the National Dog Breeding Center

- Increase awareness of services for the visually impaired, as well as the general public public and institutional partners (legislator, transport...)

How many guide dogs have been delivered since the first training schools for guide dogs?

More than 4,500 dogs guides have been given to visually impaired people since 1952, the year of the first delivery of a blind guide dog to Mr. René Blin by Mr. Paul Corteville

The guide dog: his role, his training

What brings a dog g uide to his master?

The guide dog is an everyday companion who brings to his master over freedom . It also gives him more than safety in the courses, more than comfort in the journeys but also, the pleasure born from the relation of the dog and his master

What actions can he perform? Which orders are taught to him?

The animal guides the defective person in his journeys but he must also be able to react to different situations and avoid any obstacle and danger. All education deals with this and is sanctioned by a certificate of aptitude where the guide dog realizes about fifty situations.

How are guide dogs selected?

Future guide dogs are selected from birth. They must be sociable, not very emotional, close to the man and have no health problems. They come mainly from the specialized national breeding center , CESECAH , affiliated to the French Federation of Blind Guide Dog Associations.

How long does it last? dog training, and how much does it cost?

The training takes place in 3 stages. From birth to around 3 months, the puppy stays in the Breeding Center and then goes to the Schools of Dog Guides for the Blind.

Then, for 10/12 months, the puppy is placed in a host family. who volunteered to pre-educate the dog, in order to give him all the basics of a well-behaved dog , before going into education at the School. This mission is done with the permanent help of a specialized educator. All costs, food and veterinary fees, are covered by the school.

Then, for 6/8 months, the dog spends the week at the association to learn, with a specialized educator, the guiding work and obedience.

At the end of his apprenticeship, the guide dog passes a certificate of aptitude which, once validated, makes it possible to give it free of charge to the visually impaired person.

It is difficult to communicate a number on the cost of training a guide dog because many parameters come into play but by convention, we used to communicate on the figure of € 15 000.

Are there criteria to be able to get a guide dog? What steps must be taken?

Again, there are 3 steps:

The visually impaired person must make a file at the School of Guide Federated Blind Dog of his choice and preferably, close to his home.

Once the file is finalized, the visually impaired person is welcomed to the association for 2 days to exchange with the professionals of the School on his questions, his motivations and his capacities of displacements (the expenses are taken in charge by the association). After these 2 days, the association and the visually impaired person validate the application for guide dog.

Finally, it is the discount that is made to the visually impaired person.

Guide dogs are retiring when they reach a certain age? If so, what do they become?

After ten years of good and loyal service, the dog stops guiding his master. We are talking about "retirement". If the master does not have the possibility to keep him as a pet, the association proposes to place him in a family.
The master will receive a new dog.

Help FFAC

How to become a host family? What is its role?

As mentioned above, the foster family of a future puppy Dog Guide Blinder ensures his pre-education of the dog with the help of a specialized educator.

To become a host family must:

- be close to a School of Federated Guide Dogs of Blindness

- keep and walk the dog more often with you.

The host family can to live in a house or an apartment, to have or not to have children, to have pets already or to have never had any... Everything is possible to become a host family .

How can we help the FFAC (donations, volunteering...)

You can help the FFAC and the member associations by joining the chain of solidarity of the guide dogs for the blind : volunteers, families of welcome or donors because the resources of the FFAC and the member associations are from the generosity of the general public

How to become an educator?

To dev To become an educator, one must apply for this training. For this, you must hold a bachelor's degree. It is a 2 year course alternating with the School. The school recruits according to its needs.

> Learn more about dog training