Ed and Serina’s training was sponsored by the John & Susan Hammel Family Foundation
Ed recently relocated back to his hometown of Morganton, North Carolina, located in the Catawba River Valley, at the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. He earned his bachelors and graduate degrees in Psychology at the North Carolina University at Greensboro and Appalachian State University. He worked as a psychologist with children and adults with intellectual disabilities. Ed retired in January 2021, but plans to return to work part time, providing psychology services to individuals with low vision. Ed’s hobbies include running, which he has continued to do for many years, as it is a very important part of his life.
How would you describe your guide dog? “Serina is smart, energetic, confident, affectionate and very playful.”
What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “I have known for a long time that I would one day get a guide dog due to my slow, progressive vision loss. During this period of time, I heard many positive things about Guiding Eyes. What caught my particular attention was that Guiding Eyes offered Running Guide training, which was an important factor for me in pursuing Guiding Eyes.”
How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “Having Serina has enabled me to maintain my independence. Serina is my first guide dog; she keeps me safe and will continue to do so as my vision loss progresses. Serina guided me confidently and safely through the airport terminals, following my training at Guiding Eyes. Remaining independent is my most important priority.”
Were there any training highlights? “There were many highlights of my training, but two stood out. The first was when my trainer took me to the city of White Plains, about 30 minutes from the school campus. As Serina and I came to a busy pedestrian crosswalk a car turned right into our path. I wasn’t aware at first, however Serina saw the vehicle and immediately responded and slowed me down. On the last day of training as part of my Running Guide training, two instructors, Ben and Danielle, took me on the North County Trail to run with Serina. That run was a memory that I’ll never forget. The training was geared to my personal needs. Kat, my primary instructor, went above and beyond my expectations, so I could understand her training instructions. As I have hearing loss and often rely on lip reading, the pandemic requirement for everyone to wear a mask could have significantly impacted my training, however Kat ordered quality masks with see-through material so I could read her lips. That was just another extra effort made by Guiding Eyes to tailor the two weeks of rigorous training to meet my personal needs. The entire staff, including the dining, nursing, and support staff, were so welcoming, friendly, and easy to talk to and genuinely interested in me. The CEO, Tom Panek, took the time to have a meal with us. He asked us for feedback as to what we liked about the experience, as well as for recommendations for improvement. It was an amazing experience.”
Serina is an amazing dog and we are thrilled that she has been placed with such a perfect match. We wish this team the best and know that they will have a great time together. Serina is very motivated and enthusiastic in all facets of training and daily life, and she brings positivity everywhere she goes. One time Serina joined us for a dinner function and lay down quietly and calmly beneath my chair as we had practiced at home. Despite the busyness of people walking over/around her and food being dropped by others, she didn’t budge and the waitstaff was astonished by her good manners. Serina was well behaved during trips to stores and very attentive the whole time despite distractions. We loved nature walks with her most of all though, as she loves being outside. Her excitement was contagious. Serina always had the ability to make us smile and laugh. We’ve really enjoyed being a part of the Guiding Eyes Puppy Raising Program and are excited for Serina’s bright future with her graduate.
Parker (William) Johnson, Puppy Raiser of Serina