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.
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.
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
At the present time the mother / daughter team have the first five Miniature
Smooth Champion Dachshunds in Utah. The next several came
"Cristy and I show out dogs in
Utah, Nevada, California, Wyoming, Colorado and
Arizona," said Mrs. Durfee. "We invest a lot of time
money in this hobby, but we get a lot of enjoyment out of it too.
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
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
"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