2 years old, Rasta has the ardor of youth but the wisdom of a well-behaved dog. Sandrine Lebreton, technical director and educator, and Stevy Gallard, student instructor, have followed her since she was very young.
“She arrived at the age of two months in our association, then entrusted to a volunteer foster family until she was twelve months old. She was monitored one week a month at school by a referent monitor who gives advice to the host family. Then, she entered education in our education center located in Èze, where she learned the work of guiding”.
To acquire the certificate of aptitude for guiding, Rasta learned about fifty commands: to the right, to the left, to find a protected passage, a door, a mailbox… “The dog is not a GPS, emphasizes the teacher. We give him the direction.”
About fifty orders
Her certificate obtained, Rasta was ready to join her new mistress. The handover lasts two weeks so that the new team begins to train and move independently and safely, in town and in the countryside. A new small revolution in the life of Aurélie.
“She is crazy because she is young and sporty but she works well. This is my 2nd dog. I had a golden Labrador cross that retired to a foster family I know. It was difficult to come back to the cane. Sometimes we get lost, we have obstacles, we don’t always go straight… With Rasta, I can go to my work and my piano and singing lessons at the Mouans-Sartoux music school. She gives the stop sign, the passage, the door… and she knows how to get home. He is also a companion dog. She’s cuddly.”
In Mouans-Sartoux, accessibility has been well studied. “We worked with the town hall for the equipmentremembers Aurélie. There are tactile strips at red lights, in front of the sidewalks… The relief guide markers are important for the blind. They take us to strategic points such as the train station, in front of the cinema… There are also small circles, alert terminals, to indicate a descent for example.”
Aurélie has only one fear: bad encounters. “The dogs that come and annoy him are a problem. People also have to respect the working guide dog: let him pass, not let his dog sniff him, not pet him without asking the owner’s permission… The dog is educated not to be distracted but he is disturbed because he remains a dog and has reflexes”.
A long waiting list
The waiting list is long to have the chance, like Aurélie, to have the company of a guide dog. “There is between 6 months and 2 years of waiting”, explains Sandrine Lebreton.
“We are looking for host families near Nice, donors and volunteers. The education of a guide dog costs 25,000 euros per year. They are then given free of charge. As an association under the law of 1901, we operate on donations. and bequests.”