Close this search box.
Close this search box.

Zed and Verdell

Meet Graduate Zed

Graduate Zed and yellow Lab guide dog VerdellGraduate Team: Zed and Verdell
About the Team: Verdell, a male yellow Lab, is Zed’s 1st guide dog
Hometown: Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey
Guide Dog Mobility Instructor:  Louise Thompson
March Home Training

Zed and his wife Christine reside in a retirement community in Egg Harbor Township, New Jersey. They met on the campus of Glassboro State College (formerly Rowan University) and have been married for forty-eight years. They have two children – a daughter who is a nurse, and a son with a PhD in Biophysics who is a Senior Lecturer at Johns Hopkins University.  Zed, who is retired, served in the National Guard for six years. He was employed by the Egg Harbor Township school system, for 25 years. During that time, he was a Special Education Supervisor in the High School, an Assistant Principal in the district’s Middle School and a Principal in the Elementary School. Zed lost 85% of his vision six years ago as a result of Leber Hereditary Optic Neuropathy (LHON), an inherited form of vision loss.  Zed is a member of Gilda’s Club, volunteering at the Fox Chase Cancer Center. He enjoys the cello and bass, which he modestly states he is still learning to play. They are thrilled to have Verdell as part of their family. 

How would you describe your guide dog? “There are no words that can fully describe the blessing that is Verdell. He is so well behaved and trained. He is obedient, not distractable, a great dog, and a perfect teammate.”

What made you decide to apply for a guide dog from Guiding Eyes? “With the assistance of my wife, we went on-line and researched different schools. The Guiding Eyes website stood out to me. In addition, my mobility specialist from the Commission for the Blind of the State of New Jersey, recommended Guiding Eyes. Although there are other schools around, it was readily apparent that the services Guiding Eyes offered best fit my needs.”

How has having a guide dog impacted your life? “Verdell is my first guide dog. I feel a lot more confident being alone when I am out. I have much more freedom getting around my neighborhood, including shopping or going to the mall and boardwalk, which I enjoy doing regularly.”

Were there any training highlights? “First and foremost, Guiding Eyes did my training at my home. I’ve had double knee replacement surgery and I still have some issues, so it was great they were able to work with Verdell and me in my neighborhood for two weeks. They also provided training in Ocean City on the boardwalk, which I mentioned, is an important part of my life. The highlight of my experience was the traffic training. My trainer, Louise, would actually use her car to safely simulate traffic for Verdell and she arranged for other dogs to try and distract Verdell from his guide work. Nothing distracted Verdell. Louise was excellent, answering all my questions and anticipating potential problems. She was amazing.”

Meet Guide Dog Verdell

Enjoy these photos of the team…