All dogs can be trained to search for truffles, the most promising of which is the dachshund, who with their low-slung bodies and keen noses make very good pupils. Here's how you do it.
1. Training should begin soon after the puppy is born. I suggest applying truffle oil gently to its mother's teats while she is suckling in order to give the puppy its first taste of truffles. We have a product, which is perfect for this called Canitruf, which is specially formulated for dug training.
2. Once the puppy has grown and is looking to play, take a squash ball, slit it with a sharp knife and insert a piece of dry bread soaked in the oil. Play 'fetch' with the doctored ball and reward your trainee truffle hound every time he returns with the ball with a (non fattening) morsel.
3. Once the dog is happy with fetching the squash ball, do the same trick with an old tennis ball but instead of playing 'fetch' now start hiding the ball and gradually make it harder and harder for the dog to find. Once he has mastered the art of finding the ball, start burying the ball.
4. The last lesson is to hide small pieces of real truffle underground – avoiding your spouses favourite bed of delphiniums – and reward your dog lavishly whenever he succeeds in digging up the treasure.
5. Once your dog has mastered this he will be ready to take out on his first truffle hunt.
Nigel Hadden-Paton runs www.truffle-uk.co.uk where you can buy truffle impregnated tree seedlings, fresh truffle, truffle shares, truffle products and salami, Jamon Iberico and French Armagnac. Editors of Permaculture, Maddy & Tim Harland, planted a truffle impregnated hazel sapling four years ago and await their first harvest!
For an excellent book see The Truffle Book. It explores the truffle forests of France and the truffle markets of Italy, discovers the new truffles of the American northwest and the new plantations of Australia and New Zealand. There is advice on setting up a truffiere, training a dog to find truffles, how to buy, avoiding expensive mistakes, and how to cook the defining truffle dishes.
This Solution was first published in Permaculture magazine 55. To see the full contents or download a PDF copy for just £2.95 click HERE!
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