We spoke to competition winners Stuart and Carole Pearson, owners of Kelevra Dalmatians, about their experience, what it felt like to win and what it took to get to the top!
Now that you’ve had a while for the initial excitement to die down, can you describe how it felt to win such a prestigious title?
We set out to just enjoy our day and the whole experience, taking a more relaxed approach in the build up to judging on the day. We all felt that the dogs had gone well in pre-judging and on their entrance into the main ring so at that point there was nothing more any of us could have done. When we were called out in the shortlist we were more than happy, once again under further evaluation from the judge the dogs couldn’t have done any more for us. It was surreal and amazing when the judge made his way across to us and there was a slight moment of disbelief. To have your breeding recognised on the biggest stage was a true honour.
When did you first get into breeding?
We bred our first litter of Dalmatians in 2009, with a view to sticking to the tried-and-tested British lines but introducing new blood when it has been needed.
How did it all begin?
When we bought our first Dalmatian we did everything that people are advised not to do. Carole had always wanted to show dogs and we took Harvey along to a show, he was never a show dog though so from then we started a search for a show dog. Phoebe joined us from a local breeder, she was never a world beater (only in our heads) but she was a willing show dog and a good introduction to the ways of it all. Following Phoebe we bought in Lola who became our first Champion and the foundation beyond our breeding.
What is it you love about Dalmations?
Dalmatians are a what’s-in-it-for-me dog, eager to please as long as they are getting rewarded. They’re full of energy and affection, happy enough to be where ever you are. Like those famous battery-powered bunnies they can go on and on, but all they want is to be with their owners.
You were picked as the breeders with the best overall quality evident in your dogs. What do you think the judges saw in your dogs that they didn’t spot in any others?
I think once it was down to the shortlist it could have gone to any of the breeds in the final four. Maybe it was a case of the overall balance and the performance in the final of our team? They were a quite well-matched team who complimented each other well, the handlers let the dogs do the talking on the green carpet and were merely there to steer them.
In just a few words, what makes a ‘good’ Dalmation?
Balanced and free from exaggeration, along with free and easy movement then I think you’ll be onto a winner.
Can you describe (without giving away any secrets) how you go the extra mile to produce such good quality dogs?
Balance is essential to the proportions of the Dalmatian but also important in their upbringing. Getting the right balance between training, exercise, play, socialisation as well as their food, and being able to spot when something isn’t quite right and working on it until it is. Listening to the advice of those more experienced than you and using all those snippets in such a way that it works with your dogs.
How important is it for you to have the right pet insurance?
Having good and trustworthy insurers behind you takes away some of the worry about having a number of dogs. You need to know that when things go wrong that you have an insurer that has your back and isn’t looking to get out of their responsibilities. It allows us to get on with looking after and raising our dogs stress free while the vets can deal direct with the insurance company.
What made you choose to insure your dogs with Agria?
The breeder program they offer.
What would you say to any breeders who don’t insure their dogs?
Having had a five-month-old puppy hit by a car and break its leg, the costs can quickly mount up. We’ve also had a dog that had multiple operations due to blockages. Over the years have we paid more in premiums than we have in vets bills? It would be a close call, but what we have been able to do is not worry when we walk into the vets for any ailment, the cover has always been there.
What general advice would you give to any aspiring breeders?
Look at what you are planning to breed and be honest with yourself. Using a big winning dog doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll be producing big winners. Listen and talk to those in the breed who can tell you a lot more about those names on the pedigree.
Lastly, where do you go from here? Are there any items left to achieve on your breeder bucket list?
Having already won at Manchester with the same team of Dalmatians, the decision was made to stop competing with the Dalmatians. That day at Crufts will never be matched and the only way we could go is backwards. We have had our first litter of Bracco Italiano so who knows, we may start to see if we can go the same way with them.
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