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Mother, daughter train champion dogs
Published April 9, 1991


Besides being mother and daughter, Grantsville's Connie and Cristy Durfee make a pretty good "award winning dog training team."  For the past six years the pair have been raking in awards on their miniature smooth dachshunds.

In addition, Cristy has obedience trained several dogs, including two Labrador Retrievers as guide dogs for the blind from San Rafael, CA.  The 14-year-old plans to start work with her their guide dog for the blind this fall.

Mrs. Durfee said, "Cristy and I have both always loved dogs.  I can't remember a time we haven't had at least one."

It was back in 1966, that Mrs. Durfee received her first dachshund. She has been showing dachshunds for the last six years.

At the present time the mother / daughter team have the first five Miniature Smooth Champion Dachshunds in Utah.  The next several came their breeding.

"Cristy and I show out dogs in Utah, Nevada, California, Wyoming, Colorado and Arizona," said Mrs. Durfee.   "We invest a lot of time and money in this hobby, but we get a lot of enjoyment out of it too. 

I guess we just like the satisfaction of knowing we have bred and raised a champion." Mrs. Durfee said she learned the art of dog training / showing by taking a few classes and going to dog shows as a spectator.  "When Cristy was seven-years-old, she started helping me train the dogs," she added.  "Since then Cristy and I critique one another and basically that is how we have learned.

"The rest of the family is supportive, but not actually participants in the dog training," said the mother of three.  "They leave that up to Cristy and me." In addition to working full-time outside the home, Mrs. Durfee averages another three hours a day working with her dogs.  The Durfees also breed miniature dachshunds, but say they are very selective in doing so.  When the time draws near for puppies to be born, Mrs. Durfee and Cristy keep a close vigil over the situation.

"We have a room in our home, set up as a nursery for the puppies," said Mrs. Durfee.  "It's like a regular maternity ward.  None of our females give birth without assistance.  When it is time for the puppies to be born, I stay right there with the mothers during the entire process."  

The puppies stay in the nursery for 8-10 weeks.  "During that time we monitor them like a new-born baby.  They are also start their socialization.  We evaluate the puppies at 8 weeks of age to decide the ones we'll keep to train as show dogs.  

One of the Durfee's dachshunds, which they bred, raised and trained, is a 3 1/2-year-old male named CH Durdach Own Image MS  also know as "Tyson".  "Not only has Tyson received several Best of Variety wins, he has also won the Hound Group,"  Mrs. Durfee said, "That means out of all the different hound varieties, Tyson was judged best over-all in the Hound Group."  

It was almost three years ago when Cristy expanded her dog training abilities to include a female yellow Labrador Retriever, which she trained as a guide dog for the blind.  "I read about a 4-H project training guide dogs for the blind and wanted to be involved," Cristy said.  "I put in an application in May and received my puppy, Villa in September of that year."

Training a guide dog is not small chore.  Cristy had the dog, Villa for a year.  During that time Villa lived in Cristy's bedroom.

"I taught Villa socialization skills, basic obedience and how to overcome food temptations." said Cristy.  "I trained her to go into stores, churches and schools and to never eat until she was commanded to do so."

At the end of one year, Villa was flown to California for further training.  Cristy said, "Two weeks before the Villa would have graduated from the program, I received a phone call telling me Villa had been disqualified because she was shy of noises."  "I was relieved because I had grown so attached to Villa that I wanted to keep her.  She now lives with us and is our house companion and hunting dog."

On September 8, 1989, Cristy received a second guide dog puppy, a black Labrador Retriever named Diane.  "Again I was very careful how I trained the dog." said Cristy.  "I had learned from my experience with Villa.   This time I felt more confident in what I was doing."

At the end of the year, Diane was also sent to California for further training.  "I was thrilled that Diane received B's during the training," said Cristy.  "That is a very good grade for a guide dog.  There has only been one dog in the history of the training who received A's.

Just as Cristy expected, Diane was selected for graduation.  "My mom, Grandma and Grandpa Taylor and I drove to California in February for the ceremony," she said.  "I was able to meet Lynette, the blind lady who now owns Diane.  Although it was an emotional experience to sit through the graduation ceremony and then present Diane to Lynette, I had a good feeling about it," continued Cristy.  "After meeting Lynette I knew she was a good person who will love and take good care of  Diane.  I know they are going to work great together."

By Mary Ruth Hammond
Transcript-Bulletin staff reporter


Durdach Miniature Dachshunds

Connie Durfee
Grantsville, UT 84029