It was a good week for Hachi. We had friends and their dogs visit for a hike. They were people and dogs who Hachi knew from his puppyhood. We were so happy to see that he remembered everyone very well. And, he acted like a perfectly normal dog. He was off-leash during the hike cavorting around us as we hiked. He didn't bark at the people even once, and he played with the other dogs. It felt amazing to us!
Over the years with Hachi, we've learned not to project one good encounter into the future. Indeed, the next day, he reacted with barking when he saw someone who he doesn't know so well. But, that good day did show us what it would be like if Hachi were "cured" of his fears.
We had our trainer over to our place. We worked outdoors in frigid temperatures with a howling wind. The reason for being outdoors is that it gives us more space so that the trainer doesn't need to be close to Hachi. On the Hachi grading scale, it went well. He's learning to look at a stranger and then return to his handler to check in with them. He was less reactive than in past sessions, and there were moments when he even seemed relaxed.
Maybe, someday, he'll be able to accept more people into his life as friends. I sure hope so.