A few weeks before my class began, a friend who is a dog guide user was telling me some of her experiences. She described some of the early frustrations of taking over the ownership of a well-trained dog. I said it must be like trying to do things with someone else's dog. I remembered a Will Rogers quote I had heard sometime in the distant past, and it's been stuck in my head ever since. "If you get to thinkin' you're a person of some influence, try ordering somebody else's dog around."

Well, Monday and most of Tuesday I really felt like I was ordering somebody else's dog around. Paige is willing and eager, but simply doesn't know what I want half the time. Sometimes, she just doesn't want to do it. The hardest thing I've had to do, and I've had to do it many times, is to get her under a chair or table. She usually stands and waits while I'm trying every way I can think to tell her to go under the chair, turn around, and lie down with her face looking forward. Maybe today I'll try drawing a diagram.

Today the big events were two trips into the now-familiar Morristown neighborhood to walk with the dogs in harness. Ralph took two of us in the van, then came back and switched students for the second trip in the morning. Each student worked individually with the instructor, while the other waited in the van. I brought a book to read, but the wait was short.

On the streets, we let the dog set the pace and just walked a simple route that had nothing in it but a few quiet street-crossings and a few right turns. The instructors told us that the dogs would be a little nervous and excited working with new people, and they would be a little confused by our inexperienced handling, so we weren't correcting much and we weren't trying to make any adjustments in speed. Some dogs worked very fast, others very slowly. The instructors were able to attach a second leash to the collar and take control if necessary, so we were safe and the dogs weren't unlearning anything.

Paige walked fast and, I thought, very well. She stopped at every curb and followed every command. Ralph worked on the way I delivered commands. I need to be clear and loud (I'm not actually being loud, I just sound loud to myself. Paige has a hard time hearing me when I speak in my normal tone, as do most people).

Before lunch we had a lecture and discussion on corrections and types of errors. After lunch, we got to go out again and this time apply what we had learned in the lecture. We walked the same route, but this time we corrected mistakes. We had already learned how to correct when heeling, sitting, and doing all the obedience activities we had already learned. Now, we were applying it to the real work the dog would do.

In the evening, we had a lecture on dogs' fears. This covered what dogs are often afraid of and how to work with a dog that is afraid. This lecture will be harder to take out and practice immediately. I don't know how long it will be before I find out what Paige is afraid of. People in uniform? Buses? People who walk funny? Balloons? Garbage bags? A dog that was afraid of any of those things would have trouble getting through Penn Station! She seems fearless.

In the discussion, we talked about the difference between a startle response and a fear response. Dogs might be startled by a sudden loud noise such as applause after a quiet play, but they probably aren't actually afraid of applause, they just wake up suddenly, react, then realize nothing is wrong.

At the end of the discussion we all clapped. Paige bolted straight out from under my chair and I had to grab her with both hands and pull her back under!

By the end of the day, it was really starting to feel as if Paige were my dog. I rarely repeat a command, she heels immediately when we leave a room, and she seems to like my company.

What's in store today? I understand we're using the same route. Maybe we'll work in a left turn. I'm sure we'll work in more corrections. I also know that late tomorrow, if all goes well, we'll start to use our dogs in harness within the school. So far, we keep our dogs on the leash at all times, and only have them working in harness during these trips. Soon they'll be working all the time.