Tails wag at York unveiling of statue to a very special dog

The statue of Grady is unveiled <i>(Image: York Racecourse)</i>
The statue of Grady is unveiled (Image: York Racecourse)

Tails were wagging at York racecourse yesterday for the unveiling of a statue to a very special dog.

Grady, a faithful companion guide dog was honoured by his owner, former York hotelier Jeremy Cassel with a statue unveiling by the Melrose Stand.

Jeremy has been progressively losing his eyesight since he was in his 20s and needed a Guide Dog.

Grady, an Alsation/ Golden Retriever cross became an essential part of Jeremy’s life, giving nine years of service, as well as a familiar sight on the Knavesmire until the canine sadly died from cancer last October.

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Jeremy wanted to honour his friend, as well as help the Guide Dogs Association, and came up with the idea of a statue of Grady, which would include a bowl for thirsty dogs to drink from.

Jeremy, who ran the former Grange Hotel in Bootham, now known as the No 1 Guesthouse, for more than 30 years, with wife Vivien, is now aged 73 and describes his sight now as ‘pretty hopeless.’

In his time with Grady, Jeremy noted challenges facing dog owners wanting to get a drink for their companions.

York Press: Collecting at the Knavesmire
York Press: Collecting at the Knavesmire

He hopes this statue will be the first of many, with Jeremy also wanting something like it at York Railway station for other dog owners, noting it was often a challenge trying to get Grady a drink there.

Renowned sculptor Mark Coreth of Hampshire, who has a statue of famous racehorse Frankel by the Sir Henry Cecil Gates at the northern end of the racecourse, offered to create Grady’s statue for free.

Jeremy, who lives at Westow, between York and Malton, said yesterday’s first day of the Dante Festival was ‘great fun.’

The day started with a speech to the York Guide Dogs Association in the city centre before the unveiling in the afternoon at the racecourse. He also faced two tv interviews, which he says “doesn’t happen very often.”

Jeremy told the Press: “I hope this is going to be the start of a wider campaign. I want to get these statues (with their bowls) in many other places to help the Guide Dogs Association and to help thirsty dogs get a drink.”

York Press:
York Press:

He added that as well as officials from the Guide Dogs Association for the unveiling, the charity was collecting at the racecourse, supported by nine guide dogs.

“I felt great pride yesterday, seeing something with unexpected origins lead to so much,” he said.

Racecourse spokesman James Brennan told the Press the unveiling went very well, highlighting the country’s love of dogs.

He added: “There was a crowd who enjoyed meeting the guide dogs at the unveiling. People were donating generously to the guide dogs and they rubbed Grady’s nose for luck throughout the afternoon.”