Interview with Non-Sporting Group Breeder Teresa A Vilá
Where do I live? How many years in dogs? How many years as a breeder?
Teresa A Vilá: I have lived in Louisburg, North Carolina, for 40 years. I have been in dogs since the late 1960s when my husband, Kevin Crosby, and I got our first Dalmatian. We started breeding in the early 1970s.
What is my kennel name? How many dogs do I currently keep?
Teresa A Vilá: My kennel name is Libertad De Montjuic. At the moment, I have 13 Dalmatians, ranging in age from 8 months to 14 years old; the 14-year-old being the oldest of my seniors.
Which show dogs from the past have been your noteworthy winners?
Teresa A Vilá: Farga De Montjuic was my top-winning breeder/owner-handled Dalmatian and was awarded five Bests in Show and 44 Group Firsts, and multiple Group placements, during her show career.
Which have been my most influential sires and dams?
Teresa A Vilá: Our top sire was English import Buffrey Jobee, an English and American champion who went on to produce 66 champions, several of whom were Group placing. According to the Spring 2022 statistics, Spotter “Jobee,” who was top sire for a number of years, still remains as #6 Historical Sire of Champions. Our most influential dam, Volanta De Montjuic, produced 17 champions and was a top-producing dam and still remains as #2 Historical Dams of Champions. Jobbe and “Volanta” produced Farga De Montjuic ROM (Registry of Merit) who remains as #75 All-Time Top Show Dalmatian through 2021.
Can I talk a bit about my facilities? Where are my puppies whelped? How are they raised?
Teresa A Vilá: All of my dogs live in the house and have large yards where they are able to run, providing the exercise needs for active Dalmatians. My litters are born in the house and, when they are old enough to go outside, they have access to a fenced area from my bedroom. My puppies are exposed to a variety of enrichment stimuli, preparing them for their new homes when they leave between 10 and 12 weeks of age.
What is my “process” for selecting show puppies? At what age do I make my decisions?
Teresa A Vilá: I begin stacking them at 4-5 weeks, making them accustomed to being handled. But I do not focus on selection until they are 8 weeks old. At that time, I step back and evaluate their overall outline. Then I proceed to examine how their parts fit together. Of course, I have casually been observing how they move about freely in their enclosure. And I take stock of their personalities and temperaments, which is of great importance for the Dalmatian breed.
How do I prepare my pups for the show ring? Does my breed require any special preparation?
Teresa A Vilá: My puppies begin with a training foundation that starts at 4 weeks with stacked photos. I continue stacking and teaching them to follow me in the kitchen, down the hall and, weather permitting, outside. Lead-training is next, while building on holding a stack. At the appropriate age they start conformation classes so that we can build on the skills we have been working on at home. They also travel with me to shows to get used to the sights, smells, sounds, and the routine of a show dog. With this preparation, a well-socialized Dalmatian puppy has the best chance for success in the ring.
Can I share my thoughts on how my breed is currently presented in the show ring?
Teresa A Vilá: Many years ago, the Dalmatian was always presented in the ring with the handler holding the tail. These days most handlers leave the tail alone but may still hold the tail for photos. The Dalmatian is a single-tracking dog that converges on the center line at a moderate speed. Some handlers may move their dogs too fast, making them cross in the middle. The head carriage of the Dalmatian is to be a level, continuous line from the top of the head, down the back, to the end of the tail. Today, the more showy “head up” presentation is rewarded. This trend may be leading to the lack of reach.
Are there any health-related concerns within my breed? Any special nutritional needs?
Teresa A Vilá: The Dalmatian Club of America has taken a very proactive approach to health in Dalmatians and has an off-shoot foundation, The Dalmatian Club of America Foundation (DCAF), which facilitates fundraising and distribution of donations to research projects pertaining to health concerns in our breed. A well-known consideration in Dalmatians is high uric acid, which requires dietary considerations (essentially avoiding organ meats that are high in purines) and access to unlimited fresh water. This has not been a concern for me, but it is something to be aware of. Another common issue in Dalmatians is hearing, and all puppies are BAER tested. Under health at dalmatianclubofamerica.org one can find other health conditions affecting our breed.
In my opinion, is my breed in good condition overall. Any trends that warrant concern?
Teresa A Vilá: The Dalmatian is in good condition over all. When I began in Dalmatians many years ago, the rear end assemblies were weak. These have greatly improved. The shoulders, specifically the layback, could use improvement today.
Is my breed well-suited to be a family dog? Who are the best candidates to own my breed?
Teresa A Vilá: The Dalmatian is an energetic and loving family dog. They require attention, exercise, and training to be the best family member.
The Dalmatian is an energetic and loving family dog. They require attention, exercise, and training to be the best family member.
Do I feel that my breed is supported by a sufficient number of preservation breeders?
Teresa A Vilá: Yes.
For a bit of fun, what’s the most amusing thing I’ve ever experienced with my Non-Sporting Dog?
Teresa A Vilá: Besides conformation, I compete in agility with my Dalmatians. This is an area where they can showcase their athletic abilities as well as their comical side. One time, “Flora” came flying upside down out of the chute. She didn’t miss a beat and continued on the course, leaving me laughing. “Isla” showed her gymnastic abilities by balancing like a circus dog with all four paws on the bar of a jump, again leaving me laughing. My dogs bring me an endless amount of joy.