Truffle hunting with dogs in Italy!

January 01, 2020

Truffle hunting with dogs in Italy!

Truffle hunting with dogs in Italy!  

From Dr. Jason: Many of you know that my father was a veterinarian and had a rural practice in Saskatchewan. Last year, my grandfather sent me a box of monthly newsletters from my dad’s clinic, each neatly written on a type-writer and detailing the month’s adventures. Well this year, aside from sticking to a healthier diet, my other resolution is to write a little note each month about what is happening in our Pandosy Vet practice and our fur family’s lives. 

I’ll start with a story about really cool dogs from the fall, when I accompanied my wife to Northwestern Italy. Arnica has mostly retired from the clinic now to concentrate on her wine consultancy, and I tagged along with her to several Piedmontese wineries. It’s a hard job, but someone’s got to drink while she’s spitting.

The first day in Italy, the local tourism office arranged for the two of us to go on a truffle hunt, and it was a highlight of our trip.

We followed two dogs - a young Hungarian Visla and a mature, sensible Italian hound, into the woods. They snuffled, running through the woods while the truffle hunter called out to them. Then one would stop, and start scratching at the ground in front of the tree. Our truffle hunting friend would toss a treat for the dog away from the tree, then carefully dig out the truffle with a small hoe.

We actually found one black truffle, and one extremely valuable white truffle!

You wonder how they train these dogs - well, honestly, it’s just very practical, very devoted clicker training. The dog are positively reinforced to find the exact species of truffle the hunters are after, and then they get treats when they find them, and when they leave them. Sounds simple - but a fully trained truffle dog can be worth 6,000-10,000€! Makes sense when you know the product they are hunting sells for 500€/100g in a restaurant (yup, you read that right!)

We not only got to see these amazing working dogs in action, learn about the truffle hunting culture, but of course, we got to eat plates of shaved white truffles, an unaffordable delicacy in North America. What an experience!

Read more of Dr. Jason’s January newsletter...






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