Our class with Jennifer, the SEGD trainer, this week went especially well. She's helping us learn to keep our dogs focused (which is to say she's helping us stay focused). By the end of class, Cheryl was able to walk Bingo calmly around the room while Mikey, who is similar to Bingo in some ways (exuberance being one), sat in the middle of the room and was a good boy, sort of like Godzilla taking a leisurely stroll around King Kong.
The experience carried over to the following night and our group meeting with Donna, which also went well, relatively speaking, since this time Bingo was able to sit within the good-dog circle and, for the briefest moment (as Cheryl coincidentally happened to snap this photo--that's Bingo in the middle) he sat in perfect form with dogs on all sides. (This is why photos are not used as evidence in court.)
As time goes on, we are developing a better idea of what is expected from a guide dog--it's what appears to be an impossible set of qualities: decisive but not dominant, friendly but not promiscuous, calm but not lazy, brave but not foolish, protective but not overly so, careful but not fearful, smart but not too crafty, eager to work but not impatient, or, as they say at SEGD, intelligently disobedient.
In short, a good guide dog is like a good friend or a good spouse, because life can be confusing and unpredictable and because we all need someone to look after us.