Interview with a Junior – Averi Grier
Where do you live? Where do you go to school?
Averi Grier: I live in Pella, Iowa, where I am a seventh grader at Pella Middle School.
Do you have any hobbies or interests apart from purebred dogs? Do you have a job?
Averi Grier: I do not have a job, but I help with my little brother and sister. I play softball and volleyball at school. Our family enjoys riding 4-wheelers together and I like to do acrylic paintings. Out of all these things, I love showing most!
Have you grown up in a doggy family? What is your breed(s)?
How were you introduced to Junior Showmanship? When did you start competing?
Averi Grier: I watched my grandparents showing Kerry Blues since I can remember. Soon I was gaiting them around the house with show leads. When I was eight years old, I showed my first Kerry at the Des Moines KC show and won a major on my nine-month-old puppy, both days.
What do you remember about the first time you showed as a Junior?
Averi Grier: I really don’t remember my first time in the Juniors ring, since I was already showing in Breed. The first time I won the Novice Class in Juniors at a show in Lincoln, Nebraska, was exciting for me. However, the first time I showed my Kerry “Irelynn” in Breed she not only won her class, she won Winners for a 4-pt major. Grandma and I had spent lots of time practicing stacking and gaiting for months. When Judge Cindy Meyer called me over from the back of the line in my class, I thought I was supposed to leave the ring but instead she was moving me up to the front for first place! I guess grandma forgot to tell me what happens if you win. We still laugh about that.
How do you prepare your dog and yourself for the ring? Any rituals? Any good luck charms?
Averi Grier: I start off by bathing, drying, and brushing a couple days before a show. I do all the clipper work on Irelynn and on my grandma’s Kerries that will be showing. I am practicing scissoring on dogs that aren’t in the ring and I am getting good at tidying with blenders. I do have a lucky silver jacket, but other than training and practicing with the dogs I am showing in Breed or in Juniors for the next show I don’t have any pre-show rituals. I do still get nervous when the judge is about to pick the winners, but then I remember I do it for fun!
Do you have a mentor in the sport? Have you assisted any Professional Handlers?
Averi Grier: My mentors have been my Grandma Lois and Grandpa Ted who have been raising and showing Krisma Kerry Blue Terriers for the past 20 years. But I like helping others at shows who need it too.
What do you think about the Judges? Do they seem to enjoy the Juniors ring?
Averi Grier: I think most of the judges enjoy doing Juniors, though there have been some who don’t seem like they do. Some of them are really good and take their time, making us do different things in the ring. I like that and think that it is a good way to show off my skills.
Are there any wins for which you are particularly proud? Any memorable losses?
Averi Grier: It is always great fun to win, but that doesn’t always happen. My first Novice Junior Class win made me think I was doing a good job. Then, I was really happy when I got to show Irelynn in the NOHS Terrier Group ring and got a Group 2 in January 2020.
My first big Juniors win was when I won Reserve with “Xcstasy,” the mother of my show dog who has been retired for several years. Irelynn was in heat, so I could not show her. The judge made us work real hard before choosing us… that was fun. Then the highlight of last year was to win my first Best Junior at the Des Moines KC show in September 2022 with “Quest,” a Kerry Blue I had not shown before that day. Everyone cheered for us! Then I won another Best Junior at the next show a few weeks later at the Marshalltown KC show with Xcstasy. Just a couple weeks ago, the biggest thrill was that I got to take Quest into the Terrier Group ring with 20 top dogs and handlers, and we were given a Terrier Group 4 at the Cyclone KC show!
Probably the most memorable loss was the second day of the Des Moines show after winning Best Junior. I didn’t even place in my class. I was very upset and didn’t know what I did wrong. We showed at 8:30 in the morning. Grandma said Quest just didn’t look like himself in the ring and he kept looking anxiously around. She told me to take him outside for a walk and, of course, he needed to have a big poop! So, it wasn’t my fault. He just didn’t know what to do in the ring. I was glad he didn’t poop in the ring! Grandma said that it was an important lesson learned.
How is your breed shown? How do you accentuate your dog’s breed type in the ring?
Averi Grier: Kerry Blue Terriers are gaited around the ring at a steady speed and slightly slower on the down and back. They are examined on a ramp and stacked with front legs under their shoulders, back feet slightly out behind, with head up, neck arched, and tail up. They are born black but need to have color by 18 months, or you have to wait to show them until they do.
Is your breed generally well-suited for a Junior Showmanship career?
Averi Grier: I love showing Kerry Blue Terriers. They are the best! I love their personalities because they are different than a lot of dogs. I also love how they move; it is so beautiful! They are not the best for inexperienced handlers and can be challenging, but that makes us stand out in the class. So, in my experience, they are well-suited for me as a Juniors dog. However, at the last show, the judge commented that in 23 years of judging Juniors it was the first time she had a Kerry Blue in her ring! That surprised me.
Have you bred or co-bred a litter? If so, can you share what you’ve learned from the experience?
Averi Grier: Yes, I was a co-breeder for the last litter Irelynn had last year. I have been helping to whelp litters of puppies and helping my grandma take care of them since I can remember. We are expecting Irelynn to have puppies again in April, which is very exciting! Bringing new life into the world is the best experience ever.
With so many “low entry” breeds, what are your thoughts on breed preservation?
Averi Grier: Since there aren’t many Kerry Blues, I hope to continue to help this breed get more attention so that more people will like to have one as a family pet and to show.
Are there any breeds that you would love to show but haven’t shown yet?
Averi Grier: Since my family has two Boxers that are pets, I would love to show a Boxer. I like how they move and look in the ring too. I would like to help anyone show any breed that needs help.
If you could choose only one breed to live with forever, which breed would it be and why?
Averi Grier: Wow, there are so many breeds that it would be hard to decide. I would probably choose Kerry Blues, though, because they are so energetic and happy. They are smart, good to train, and keep you on your feet. I also like that they do not shed.
Can you share a word or two about your relationship with your current dog? What does s/he mean to you?
Averi Grier: Our Boxers are happy family members that are loved and well cared for, but my Kerry is very special and loves being with me. Irelynn is five years old. She was nine months when I started showing her and I was eight. I got to finish her championship and she is also a grand champion. We have done a lot together.
What are your goals for the future? Do you see yourself continuing in the sport once you’ve aged-out?
Averi Grier: I would like to work with animals and I can see myself showing for a long time. It has been lots of fun to meet other kids showing too.
Is there a funny story that you can share about experiences as a Junior Handler?
Averi Grier: Yes, just a couple of weeks ago I again had to show a different Kerry because Irelynn was in heat and was to be bred. Grandma had entered “Phaedra” who had not been to a show in over a year and a half because we had to wait for her to get color. Juniors was first thing at 8:30 a.m., so I didn’t have much time to work with her before going in the ring. She was a bit of a handful, for sure. There were only five in the class and I was sure I would be the one who didn’t get a ribbon, but we won first place in our class! So, you never know. Just try your best and see what can happen.