They are handsome, talented and can sniff out a treasure from a forest away. One has even been known to celebrate his appearance on national television by raising not a glass, but a leg.
We’re talking about truffle dogs, the best our region has to offer. As well as boasting digging skills that uncover some of the best delicacies in the land, the region’s truffle dogs have even more claims to fame – ranging from sausage disposal to bubble-chasing.
We’re just coming up to their time of year to shine – and not just because their job demands they do what every dog dreams of doing, getting down and dirty.
To mark the start of the 2022 Canberra Truffle Festival, which runs until mid-August, the region’s truffle dogs will be taking centre dirt, hounding humans with the question, who is the best “good boy/girl”?
Truffle dogs are the backbone of the industry. They are trained to dig up the truffle treasures and direct their humans to them. They don’t have to be a particular breed, rather they just have to be smart – that is, sniff out the difference between a truffle and a petrified unmentionable.
From border collies to Jack Russells to German Pointers, kelpies to Lagotto Romagnolos, their bark – to let you know they’ve found a truffle – is way better than their bite.
One of the hot favourites for the inaugural top dog title is a bloke called Barry from L’Air du Wombat at Oallen in the Southern Highlands, who is also known as Mr 100 per cent because if there’s a truffle, he’ll hound it out. He’s also seriously handsome with his brown and cream marking and ears that could be used as television antenna. When he’s not digging up truffles, he’s downing chicken necks – and making his mark on breakfast television. Literally.
He’s also charged with keeping a little lady called Roxy at bay; a New Zealand huntaway who has been known to, when she can’t find any truffles, claim Barry’s as her own. Barry’s also in charge of truffle-dog-in-the making Ralph, who is currently learning the difference between chickens and truffles.
One of the other favourites is Rocco, a German shorthaired pointer from Bluefrog truffle farm at Sutton, whose human Wayne Haslam, reckons he – Rocco not Wayne – can sing. He can also blow a bubble or two. Again, we’re talking about Rocco.
But if there’s a vote for super-dog strength, it would have to go to Turalla Truffles’ little Arrow, who managed to dig up a near 1 kg truffle on the Bungendore farm last year even though she barely weighs 5 kg.
Everyone is invited to vote for their favourite – check out the Dogues Gallery on the website – and the winner will receive two tickets to a truffle hunt at one of the region’s top farms and 100g of premium truffles.
There’s a host of other events organised to celebrate the 2022 Canberra Region Truffle Festival, from degustation menus to truffle hunts.
A highlight of the celebrations will be the festival launch dinner on Friday, 1 July, at Canberra’s five-star Hotel Realm. Guests on the night will meet the local truffle growers and wine-makers whose produce will grace the tables at this unique three-course dinner. Book your tickets here.
For more information about the 2022 Canberra Region Truffle Festival, go to the website.