Truffle Hunter

About a year and a half ago, we decided we needed a dog. Our old Canadian cats had passed on and we had been pet-less for about a year. We did all kinds of research on the internet, we asked people who had dogs, we talked to our vet and we learned what kind of dog would best suit our life. And then we went out and got completely the wrong dog. We went to visit friends of friends and they had puppies. How could we resist.

Lilla is a mutt. Her mother is a Golden Labrador and no one really knows much about her father. She doesn’t sit when you tell her to (or, she’ll only sit if you have food), she doesn’t stay, she jumps on people when they walk through our door and she knocks over small children in the park. Lilla is sweet and affectionate, but she’s a real pain.

But, Lilla, I’ve just learned, has hidden talents. She’s a truffle dog.

Our neighbour in Umbria mentioned once in passing that he thought she would make a good truffle dog, but we had no idea how we would teach her to unleash her talents. This weekend, we met some friends for lunch at a wonderful agriturismo in Amelia and ate lunch at the restaurant. The owner, Fausto, watched Lilla playing with the children, running after sticks and retrieving rocks. He went to the kitchen and came out a few minutes later with a bowl full of black summer truffles that he had just collected that morning. He threw one to Lilla. She caught it and brought it back to him.

Fausto let her smell the truffle in his hand and then threw it a few more times. Each time she found the truffle and brought it back (she’s had lots of practice with sticks and tennis balls). He told us to get her a license and some truffle training and then set her free in the forest near our house in Calvi.

As we were leaving, Fausto handed me a truffle. “Don’t eat it,” he said. “It’s for her to practice at home.”

My feelings for Lilla have changed. She’s still a pain, she stills jumps on our friends and knocks over children. She still wants to have a nice long walk right when I’m trying to concentrate on something else. But now I’m imagining fresh linguine in truffle sauce, poached eggs in truffle sauce and maybe even risotto with fresh truffles shaved on top.

Nice doggy.



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2 responses to “Truffle Hunter

  1. Helen Gillman

    I love it! Lilla sounds just adorable – and now useful as well!! My dog Maple is also an adorable, naughty dog – she has had lots of special training and still has problems with simple tasks like sitting (can do it for brief periods while waiting for a treat), staying (absolutely out of the question), heeling (che?), not jumping (but I love you!!!), not stealing food from the kitchen bench and table (well, no-one was looking! A dog has to do what a dog has to do), not barking at the neighbours (but its so much FUN), and so on. An absolute pest. One thing that really helped was when my mother trained her with treats. Now I have to spell the word. She will do anything for a treat (especially leftover meatloaf), including sit, stay (sort of) and will even stop barking at the neighbours. Sounds like Lilla has a super luxury treat in that truffle! Helen

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