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Caitlin Hernandez hugs her black Lab Guide Dog.Having a Guide Dog has been really fun; it's lots faster and easier for me to get around. I especially see the difference when we're in crowds—it's so much easier to navigate. It's less of a hassle than constantly pulling a cane out of people's way.

Everyone loves Lancaster—kids and teachers alike. He's definitely spoiled, but surprisingly doesn't get distracted. The bond we started at Guide Dog school has grown stronger. Even when people try to distract him, he looks to me for direction, as if to say, "Is it okay?" He's got such a loving personality—he likes to flop in your lap and be pampered.

I love feeding him—he gets so excited! I feel like that's the least I can do for all he's doing for me. I have to work my schedule around his feeding and relieving schedules, so it has the effect of really keeping me in line, and has made me a more responsible person.

His raiser came out in September for a dog show and we had a chance to meet her. Lancaster got all psyched out. Now we continue to chat via e-mail. That's one of the benefits—just knowing that there were so many great people who helped bring him up and train him to be a Guide Dog.

My advice for someone who is considering a Guide Dog is to make sure you feel you can be responsible and you're ready for it. You can't just get a dog—you have to adapt it to your lifestyle. But the responsibilities are far outweighed by the dog—he makes going places so much fun! Everywhere you go is an adventure! I thought about the decision for a long time. You want to make sure you can use a dog to its fullest potential and really have a good life. I've heard people say, "I don't go enough places to have a dog." When you get a dog, sometimes, you take a trip to the store so you can keep the dog active. You can't just be a couch potato. They bring out the best in us.

Lancaster also attracts people—I can certainly say, people talk to me so much more than they did before. I think they didn't feel there was any common ground to initiate a conversation before. Now, people start talking about my dog; sometimes they relate to their own dogs. Usually the conversation just goes on from there. The important thing is they don't feel freaked out like they did before. It heightens people's awareness of what a dog can do—they're amazed that he's so well-behaved and sleeps under my desk.

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