Dr Thomas Stuttaford, the very sensible medical columnist of The Oldie, wrote recently of the key role dogs play in human social life. Not only do they themselves offer valued companionship to their owners but, as any dog walker knows, they often lead to agreeable encounters with other people.
Within this context we were interested to hear of the Association Chiens Citadins – set up here by Marie-Anne Saccomano. She explains: “We are concerned with the interests of both dogs and their owners. We encourage our members to educate their animals to be good citizens with respect for people and places and especially on the street. We also want to share our pleasure in canine company with others. We’ve developed a programme of regular visits to retirement homes and this has been a great success. Then we’ve established a system of nounous – nannies, if you like – who visit or walk other people’s dogs when necessary. At the same time, our members share their experiences of living with and training their dogs. We learn a lot from each other.” To find out more (in French) see www.chiens-citadins.fr. So what about some English-speaking groups on these lines?