Article and photograph kindly provided to IGDF by Fédération Française des Associations de Chiens guides d’aveugles (FFAC) 

As an English teacher and mother of two, Bénédicte Kerg saw her family life turned upside down in 2019. Cergy-Pontoise University, launched an invitation to get involved with the cause of guide dogs by becoming a puppy-raising family. The adventure, which was supposed to last only a few months, took a completely unexpected turn for Bénédicte and her family.

“It was a family project, we consulted each other several times. It was supposed to last a year, the typical time taken for the early training of a puppy! »

She therefore requested from the headteacher, permission to get involved in this project. Another colleague has also taken the step alongside Bénédicte, so the school now has two guide dogs in training, which are around every day, during and in classes. “The impact on young people is particularly interesting! Puppies are attractive because they are cute, but older dogs also prompt questions about their work. »

Bénédicte was very involved in the training of her new four-legged pupil: “I took part in the group lessons organised at Ecole de Chiens Guides de Paris, practised the recommended exercises.”

Ouni was well on her way to becoming a guide dog… Then the family was contacted by the breeding department of the school, who offered them the opportunity to contribute in a different way to the guide dogs cause: become the breeding family of Ouni, which Ecole de Chiens Guides de Paris wished to keep as a brood bitch for future guide dogs. “It was an opportunity for us to keep Ouni with us, she had become an adult dog, calm and obedient. So much so that she is nicknamed “Miss Ounique”! »

Ouni first underwent extensive aptitude tests, in particular screening for dysplasia. Since being selected, she now shares her life between her family and the Guide Dog School of Paris, where she stays for 3 months for the litters to be born and weaned. Bénédicte takes good care of her health and well-being, with outings and fun activities in the company of other dogs. When Ouni is about to give birth to a new litter, she goes into the school 15 days before whelping, so that she and the pups can receive professional care. Bénédicte is the first to see photos of the newborn puppies and is allowed to visit the little family in sterile clothes a week later. When the pups are weaned, Ouni returns to her puppy-raising family.

“I was lucky enough to follow the handovers (qualification ceremony) of Ouni’s puppies, including that of a dog whose owner returned to Ireland and keeps a blog. These are particularly touching moments. »

But the family doesn’t stop there: during Ouni’s periods at School, they welcome dogs as a relay family for stays of up to a month and a half long.