Life with Grady: What it’s like being Grady’s handler

C. Greyson Veritas, otherwise known as Grady, has already established himself as a beloved member of the University of Indianapolis community. However, students only see Grady when he is on campus and working and not when he is home being a normal dog.  Associate Director of Alumni Engagement Coran Sigman is Grady’s handler and she said that adding Grady into her schedule felt like an extension of her job.

“When he’s relaxing, I’m able to work on emails, media, event registration type pages and everything,” Sigman said. “But it’s also nice because I know when he starts getting antsy that [it means] alright, let’s switch to Grady mode…. What’s really great is that Grady defines my busy day.”

According to Sigman, being Grady’s handler is a one person job, but she has some help along the way. She said she is able to rely on those in the Alumni Engagement office to watch Grady when she has work and he cannot be with her. Sigman said that her daily schedule is planned around Grady and what he needs to do.

“He gets me up in the morning [and] he gets very excited to come to work. Often, I feel a wet little nose on my hand. That lets me know, ‘Okay, it’s time to get up and get ready,’” Sigman said. “Depending on how the day looks, we’ll either come directly to the office where he can finish his breakfast, take a quick nap, chill and just get used to the day. Sometimes, we’ll have 8:00 a.m. events specifically with Admissions when they do preview days. When we have students coming on campus to explore a major here, we like to try to get Grady to some of those…”

Photo by Tony Reeves Freshmen marketing and graphic design major Bailey Hodgin and english education major Carey Scott pose for a picture with Grady on Valentines Day. There were also cards featuring Grady and art supplies students could use to decorate the cards to give to others.

Grady has some limitations because he is a Greyhound, according to Sigman. He is unable to sit comfortably like most dogs, so making sure Grady gets his rest is one of the most important things, Sigman said. When Grady has extremely busy days, she tries to let him rest the next day, she said.

“The word ‘live’ in front of live mascot is super important for people to remember,” Sigman said. “He’s going to have those recharging needs that any live animal’s going to need.”

Even though Grady is a large part of campus, he is learning to be a normal dog, according to Sigman’s husband, Seth Sigman, who is a UIndy Police Officer. Every day, Grady comes home and lives with the Sigmans along with their two other dogs Duke and Rogue. Sigman said that she has always been a dog lover and it is great to have Grady join her dog family.

“He’s really great with my other dogs and my other dogs are really great with him,” Sigman said. “Grady was a working dog for the first two years of his life…. Now he gets to be a dog, a pet, a family member. My dogs helped bring out that side of Grady… my dogs teach him how to play.”

Seth said that Grady is a very low maintenance dog which he demonstrated the first time he was introduced to their other dogs. He said that within five minutes, all three dogs were off their leashes and playing together. 

“The longer we’ve had him, the more we get to see his personality,” Seth said. “He’s learning how to be a dog, finally, away from the track.”

Along with his in-person responsibilities, Grady also has a presence on various social media platforms. Sigman said she is responsible for helping build his brand and image. She said that a large part of the posts and pictures that are made are from her because she is with Grady the majority of the time.

“There is a team of people, with the help of marketing and communications that take on some of the bigger things in the more branded look and feel to Grady,” Sigman said. “He has his own look. He has his own feel. He has his own voice that we want to make sure [that] we adhere to and [we want to] build up his persona on campus.”

Sigman said that she hopes Grady will hopefully stay a part of her dog family after retiring. She said that the program is a pilot and that they have modeled it off of programs from other schools.

“When the time comes to retire Grady from his mascot duties, we want to make sure that he has a good life after being a mascot too,” Sigman said. “When that time comes, we will consider new handlers for a new dog. Now I can’t tell you… if I will become that handler or if I’ll even throw my name into the bag for that… because my focus is on Grady.”