Essential for people with disabilities, obtaining a service dog often takes several years. In the canton of Valais, the Le Copain foundation handed over several of these dogs to their new masters on Tuesday.
Glue, a year-and-a-half-old Labrador who specializes in assistance, meets his new owner on Tuesday. “We are going to do a lot of things, every day. He is a friend for me”, she confides in the 7:30 p.m. The canine grew up in a foster family before following an apprenticeship of several months.
That day, three dogs were presented to their beneficiaries. A moment that Fabienne, suffering from myopathy, had been waiting for more than a year to gain autonomy. “It’s an important support from a physical point of view. He picks up objects, opens doors, helps us on a daily basis. And it’s also good for morale. We have to go out, we take less medicine, we communicate thanks to him. It opens us up to the world,” she explains.
Huge waiting list
In thirty years of existence, the Le Copain foundation has donated more than 360 dogs, mainly Labradors and Golden Retrievers. If Switzerland has several structures of this type, the waiting time to obtain a companion is counted in years.
“We are not able to follow all the requests, in particular because of the financial cost that this represents”, explains Gabriel Friggieri, director of the foundation. And for good reason, training a dog costs around 45,000 francs. only a dozen dogs can be trained per year because of the infrastructure and the personnel it requires. “The waiting list is therefore quite substantial.”