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 called 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. She checks each tree thoroughly and quickly, and thrives on her work. The 2015 season ended well for Indy with locating first time truffles in two different truffière’s. They varied in size from approx. 160 grams through to the size of half-a-pea…now that’s impressive.
Haggis is the new boy on the block. He was born in January 2015, and joined the family at 10 weeks old. By four months he was already learning how to find the scent, and by six months was well in the swing of hunting for the scent. He had the opportunity to search for truffle in a producing BoP truffière and was successful in locating his first buried truffle.
Both Haggis and Indi continue to train, which will be increased again in Feb in preparation for the 2017 season, and after a hard earned rest.