...but not our dogs. Gaze upon pictures of a Perigord farmer out in the oak woods hunting for truffles and you will see him, beret on head and a Gauloises stuck to his lip, holding a lead attached to a very large, fat and slow pig. Pigs love truffles and are masterly at sniffing them out, but as Fiona says, “You don’t want to get your hand between a pig and a truffle”. Doubtless the old French truffle hunters had their solution, we chose a less risky alternative, the powerful nasal capacity of the dog.
Dogs can scent a truffle from many metres away that we could only smell by burying our noses in the soil. Not a useful means of searching. Dogs do not like truffles; what they do like is the treats that come their way when they find one. A doggy incentive scheme.
Rather than own a dog of our own, we chose to involve others in our truffling by finding local dogs for training. Several dog 'interviews' were conducted (the owners also attended) and a number of dogs made the grade for training.
Meet our current team of graduates and those currently in training.
Hepburn has been our ‘professional’ truffle-hunter for the last three years. It is Hepburn you will meet on your hunt. She found our largest truffle; over 500g.
Hepburn has a beautiful personality and is so intelligent. She loves chasing scents around the paddock. But the minute this young Australian Koolie hears the command “find truffle”, her nose is focused on unearthing these buried treasures. When she plants her paw on the spot, her confident glance says it all. It’s time for the humans to go to work.
Kai is a very clever young Koolie who recently graduated to a 'professional' truffle hunter. Although he can get a little excited at first when he meets new people, he is keen to find truffles in exchange for treats and ball games (his favourite). When he sniffs out the precious fungus, he marks its location by lying down with his nose over the truffle and patiently waiting for his human to confirm his find.
At home, Kai helps out by fetching everything from shoes to gardening tools and gives great cuddles. He also enjoys agility and is often eager to show off the many tricks he knows.
Bindi is a ginger Koolie. She started learning about truffles towards the end of the season. She isn’t sure what to think of them, but we think she will become a great truffle hunter.
Nova is a sable Koolie. She is being trained by a young Vet Nurse and is progressing well. Nova finds the truffles when they are there, but so far, they have been ‘plants’ because we have harvested before she has come to hunt. We are looking forward to Nova’s development this year into a professional truffle dog.
Charlie is a 5 year old labradoodle, cuteness personified. She is amiable and loving, but she can be mischievous. Charlie took a ‘sabbatical’ in 2021, but is back into training this year. You may not meet Charlie in 2022 as she is quite capable of finding truffle scent when she wants to, but is more focussed on the edible reward than the truffle. We expect her to graduate this year and be a professional truffle hunter in 2023.
Fella came to truffle hunting because he has a great nose, and like all of us, needs a skill and to earn his keep. He is a cheeky monkey, self-reliant, not needy, and looks older than his 6 years. Fella’s reward is a very special treat, kangaroo biltong. We hope Fella will also graduate as a professional truffle hunter this year.
Rupi is very excited to start her truffle-hunting journey this year. She is a young Welsh Springer Spaniel with a passion for sniffing.
She is a happy-go-lucky pup who loves having fun, exploring, learning new things, and spending time with her humans.
From day one, Rupi showed keen interest in keeping her nose on the ground and exploring her world through the sense of smell. Because of this, her human thought it would be a good idea to put that big nose to work and train Rupi as a professional truffle hunter.
Rupi’s life motto: Just keep on sniffing, sniffing, sniffing, …
Truffle (yes, that really is her name) is an enthuisiastic 4 year old Golden Retriever who has had her nose to the ground since she was a pup. And she’s a dog that wants a job to do. Originally we planned to train her as a conservation detection dog, but the pandemic got in the way – so truffle hunting is a fantastic alternative …. We are all sure she will graduate as a professional truffle hunter this year. Truffle joins dog-friend and truffle-hunter trainee Rupi for regular training sessions and it may soon get very competitive.
See the dogs in action this Winter