Now in the centre ring: Un chien truffier

At the end of yesterday’s posting, about Sunday’s Promenade en Gastronomie in Daglan, I promised to show how a dog can be used to sniff out the truffles that the Périgord Noir is known for. I’ve written about this before, in “Spot the truffle hunter,” posted on August 3, 2011, but it’s worth another look. So here we go.

The starting point is a ring made of wooden beams that is set up in Daglan’s main square, then filled with soil, and then punctuated with twigs and branches to simulate a typical forest where truffles may be found.

Fairly promptly at 4 p.m. on Sunday, the chien truffier or truffle dog emerged with its owner, and started showing off to the small crowd around the demonstration area. Here they are as the action begins, but with our hero not quite focussed enough to stay inside the ring:

This is called "sniffing outside the box."

This is called “sniffing outside the box.”

Truffles typically grow around the roots of oak trees in the Greater Daglan Area, so it looks like the dog has the right idea — sniffing below the branches that have been planted in the soil:

He starts right at the base of the "tree."

He starts right at the base of the “tree.”

The dog keeps on walking, looking and sniffing:

He continues sniffing around.

He continues sniffing around.

And then, bingo! The dog sticks its nose to the ground under a cluster of branches; the handler reaches down and digs away the soil; and sure enough, he finds a small, perforated plastic container containing a truffle. Here they are, with the dog watching his handler closely:

Bingo! Target acquired; handler digs for the truffle container.

Bingo! Target acquired; handler digs for the truffle container.

Now we discover what our chien truffier is really excited about — the chance for a treat. The handler reaches into his pocket for the bag of treats, while the dog waits anxiously:

The truffle hunter waits for the treat.

The truffle hunter waits for the treat.

And then, joy of joys, the dog gets the treat, and all is well with his world.

The truffle-hunter gets the treat it's been hoping for.

The truffle-hunter gets the treat it’s been hoping for.

It was all over quite quickly, and the demonstration earned a polite round of applause.

Assuming that Daglan will host a Promenade en Gastronomie in 2014, with a similar demonstration, my wife Jan and I have a whole year to train our cat Scooter to find truffles under the trees. I’m not terribly hopeful — for instance, we haven’t quite trained him to stop bothering us at 5 a.m. — but you never know.

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4 Responses to Now in the centre ring: Un chien truffier

  1. Paul says:

    Training cats can be extremely frustrating. We have been trying to train Angel to say woof for ages, I wish you more success with Scooter than we have had.

  2. loren24250 says:

    Scooter is now good at spotting potato chips, which he quite likes. Since a potato is (I think) a tuber, it shouldn’t be a great leap to identify truffles. But we shall see.

  3. Lesley says:

    Sorry, but this is the preserve of the Dog. Doing their job and helping the Boss make a living as a policeman, soldier, farmer or being a person’s right hand dog it’s a dog thing! Cats are just using you for their entertainment.

  4. loren24250 says:

    Lesley, thanks for clarifying — especially the part about cats “using you for their entertainment.” I had wondered what purpose we serve in Scooter’s life, and now I know. Cheers!

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