My name is Karen and I have been involved with dogs for 15+ years in a variety of different roles. But this is the most exciting and rewarding of them all. There is nothing more rewarding than teaching your dog to complete a set of tasks to be able to search for a specific scent. Training is reward based with either food or ball rewards and the dogs are enthusiastic learners, and more importantly they are enthusiastic truffle hunters. The dogs utilise both ground and air scenting during their searches. Whilst mostly worked up wind to keep them focussed on hunting close to the ground, as winds swirl and change, the dogs also have the opportunity to air scent as they work.
But where did the business all start…when I offered to train one of my dogs to search their truffle orchard (truffière). That was in 2011 when Ollie (Sydney Silkie x Maltese) started training and Truffle Dog Services began.
Ollie completed two truffle hunting seasons. Ollie represented Truffle Dogs in the book Dogs in Action by Maria Alomajan. In Nov 2013 Ollie appeared in the Waikato Times regarding Truffle Hunting at a Rotorua truffière. Ollie was the most amazing dog to teach me so much about searching for truffles but has now retired.
The team has since grown with Indigo, an enthusiastic Cocker Spaniel, and a young Spring Spaniel, Haggis.
Indigo (Indi) was a family dog that was always been looking for, and successfully finding, trouble. Since being trained to hunt for truffles, Indy has calmed down and is a fast and focussed hunter. Indy checks each tree thoroughly and quickly, and thrives on her work. The 2016 season ended well for Indy with locating first time truffles in two different truffière’s in the North Island. Indi can locate truffles in a variety of sizes from approx. 180 grams through to the size of half-a-pea 10 cm under ground…now that’s impressive. Indi has located T. melanosporum (Périgord), T. uncinatum (Burgundy), and T. borchii (Bianchetto).
“The wonderful thing about Tigga’s, is Tigga’s are wonderful things, they’re heads are made out of rubber and the bottoms are made out of springs…”and we are still waiting for the brain to connect and her bouncing to stop as she matures, but certainly hope it happens during the 2019 season.
Her training is going really well and will certainly be picking up some of the hunting this season.
Haggis was born in January 2015, and joined the family at 10 weeks old. He immediately started learning the truffle scent and by six months was well in the swing of truffle hunting. He has had many opportunities to search for truffle in a number of truffieres in 2016 and 2017 and was successful in locating the valuable buried truffle. Haggis found both T. melanosporum (Périgord) and T. borchii (Bianchetto).