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I know this is a cat forum, but I also know that several of you have dogs or are vet techs and would know stuff about dogs. I really don't want to join a dog forum for ONE question (though I guess if that's the advice I get, I'll do it after all)
I'll ask the question first, then post the details of the situation (as it's a bit long)

How do you get an old/blind dog to not be afraid of you when you're "busy" nearby?

Okay, here's how this is.
Sammy is elderly but relatively healthy. However, he is blind in both eyes. He was also abused early in life, but has been in a GOOD home for at least 10 years. His owner (Gabi) is the founder/director of the rescue group I volunteer for, and spoils him rotten, so his past life shouldn't be a problem.
Gabi had back surgery later last year, and I helped care for her pets/house.I lived at Gabi's house from November 7 to December 15, then visited every day until the day before New Year' Sammy knows who I am, and that I'm also not a bad person... or at least I hope he thinks that!
I was away, except for the occasional visit once or twice a month between January to now. This week I was hired to help Gabi in her home business as things have really picked up and now she's -swamped- and needs help.
She lets the dogs in the office while she works 10am - 6pm. They all have beds and usually just snooze or lounge around. EmmaLee is a beagle rescued from a puppy mill (she was bred "to death"), Fox is a fox terrier, and Sammy is a mutt that's been with Gabi for 10 years.

Yesterday and today Sammy started getting stressed out, anxious and scared. Panting, shaking and hiding under Gabi's chair. We're not sure what his problem is. At first we thought it was a high pitched squeak from a rusty hole puncher I was using - so I switched to a new/quiet one. But he still got all worked up...then we thought maybe it was the fax machine beeps when I sent client documents. So I quit doing that for a while. Gabi wonders if the shock collar his old owners had on him would beep before shocking. But I tried being really quiet with such noises after 2pm today, and she finally just sent him out of the office because he was getting "underfoot" (more like under her chair and shaking and wouldn't let her work).

I can't imagine he's scared of ME, since he knows me. I can pet him and get him to come to me with no problem. But when I'm in the office and doing stuff, he freaks out. We tried stopping all the noises we thought were triggering old memories, but even when I just sat there and did silent paperwork he got riled up.
Anybody have any suggestions on what could be the cause of this? I tried talking softly and petting him gently, figuring maybe his old mind forgot who I am, but he seemed okay with that contact. It's just when I start doing stuff at my desk that he switches modes from calm to "Ack! Scary stuff!". Gabi doesn't want to banish him from the office, because then he's alone (except for the cats, of course) and away from mommy.

I really don't want to quit, because I need the income and Gabi needs the help. Sammy does just fine when we clock out and go out into the rest of the house. I help her with chores and scoop litter boxes (60-ish cats and 25 boxes, she needs help with THAT too!), or go up in her room to watch TV shows, he'll snuggle right up to me.
*sigh* Poor doggie is confusing & frustrating me!

P.S. EmmaLee does growl at me (protecting Gabi), but is soon back to sleeping (and SNORING) once she realizes I'm not going to do anything to her., he's just a goof, and is disappointed I didn't come for playtime ;)
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