Forget the Tennis Ball, Train Your Dog to Fetch Something You Really Want
EUGENE, Ore. – Truffles, the earthy and expensive variety, do grow in America, but there have historically been few trained dogs or pigs to find them. For the second year in a row, the Oregon Truffle Festival presents the Truffle Dog Training Seminar, a unique event in North America teaching dogs and their owners how to find truffles in woodlands and truffle orchards across the continent. The seminar, and some of the dog-harvested truffles that result from the class, will be presented at the sixth annual Oregon Truffle Festival, to be held in Eugene, Jan. 28 through Jan. 30, 2011.
At this two-day seminar, attendees bring their dogs, introduce them to the aroma of French and Oregon truffles and the dogs and their owners then embark on an authentic woodland foray, hunting wild truffles untouched by human hands. At the first Oregon Truffle Festival dog training event in January of this year, one dog found 70 white truffles, which were served at the Grand Truffle Dinner that evening. Renowned animal trainer and truffle dog handler Jim Sanford of Blackberry Farm Resort in Walland, Tenn., instructs the class, along with a cast of professional scent dog trainers with backgrounds ranging from bomb detection to search and rescue.
Although truffles are a form of mushroom, from a gastronomic perspective they behave more like fruit, taking months to mature and produce the enthralling aromas that humans and, famously, pigs find irresistible.
“The truffle dog’s role is not just to find truffles,” said Charles Lefevre, a mycologist who serves as the festival’s organizer. “Like a shopper squeezing avocados or sniffing strawberries, truffle dogs choose which truffles are ripe and ready to harvest,”
Registration is now open for Oregon Truffle Festival weekend experiences and the Grand Truffle Dinner. Six weekend and several stand-alone options are available, including cooking classes, winery luncheons, truffle forays, truffle farm tours and multi-course truffle dinners, in addition to the Truffle Dog Training Seminar. All options may be purchased online at www.oregontrufflefestival.com.
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