Just catching up with all new posts and new members, it was nice to hear from you in PM and welcome aboard the forums.
We can all understand reluctance of handling bees for the first time - it can be intimidating when you are so highly out numbered especially by creature armed with venomous tips. But I promise, spending time just watching them do BEE STUFF as I like to call it will greatly aid you in your comfort level.
I have made many 5 framed (NUC) boxes for friends over the years STRICTLY for pollination purposes, and nearly 1/3rd of these people now have hives of their own. Seeing and studying bee-haviour really makes you want to have more of them about your property.
Getting into a classroom or study group or club is a great social means too - having others with similar issues and concerns GREATLY helps you adapt to the situation you face.
The forums here are also VERY HELPFUL - I'm calling this the "YEAR OF THE NEWBEE" I promise Piper, you are not alone and I will be soon using the GROUPS FEATURE to allow people to customise their mini-clubs within the membership of the forums. Since January 1st of twenty-oh-six we have had at least 100 members sign-up stating this is or will be their FIRST YEAR at keeping bees - that is a wonderful number and exciting to see so many people take interest in the hobby.
So again welcome and don't worry about the dog - he/she will check out the hive, get stung on the nose once MAYBE twice and then respect it from a safe distance from then on - that is nearly always the case. To the dog it is just the good smelling box that stings.
Ideally, it sound like your property will be fine. Give them lots of morning sun to the front of the hive if possible - that does two things 1) gets sun into the box early and that gets the workers out as much as an hour or more quicker than if left in shade, especially in cooler weather and 2) it generally keeps prevailing winds BEHIND the hive, allowing you to work the hive (inspect it that is) from behind without having the bees banging into you as they attempt to land. The wind from behind you causes them to land softly and not over shoot the box - if the wind were from the east (should say from the front of the box coming toward you) then the bees would be smacking into you as they over shoot their landing.
Lastly... These creatures are sacred to man - we have a bond that we have with no other insect (flying or otherwise) it is a bond that GREATLY is held together by the BELIEF the bees have in your assuredness as a beekeeper - in other words, the better you become, the less they see you as a beekeeper and the more the see you as just another bee doing different BEE-STUFF. Enjoy the learning process. Make use of the combined talents and opinions of the members here and relax, it gets real easy very quickly if you just take your time and enjoy the moment.