“Go Rocky, looking good !”. “Here, bravo !”. The labrador wags tail, happy to have succeeded in flushing out the treasure : the truffle. For three weeks, Rocky has followed the course of “the University of dogs truffle” in Italy and is now the pride of his master.
At the head of this “academy” not like the others, is situated in Roddi (north-west) figure Giovanni Monchiero, who, like his father, grand-father and great-grand-father, can transform an ordinary dog in the dog in the truffle.
“Cause a dog to search for truffles is something that is very simple, it just has to have a lot of patience, and from the fact that for them it is a game,” says Giovanni, 55 years old.
“You start by playing the dog with the nose. Me, I use of the truffle, but those that don’t can put a bit of scented oil to the nose on a tennis ball. It the spear, the dog should recover and reward with kibble.”
Then, the master complicates the game by throwing the nose in a place with grass, where the dog cannot see where it falls. “There, it is necessary to begin to give voice commands: go, look, you’ve found it, congratulations! It is necessary to always praise and reward”, points out Giovanni.
“The best of the Piedmont”
“Once the dog has picked up the aroma of the truffle, the next step is to hide it under the earth, in the beginning not very deep.” The Alba area, where Roddi, is famous for its white truffle, “characterized by an intense fragrance that evokes the woods, the nature”, points out Antonio Degiacomi, president of the national Center for the study of the truffle. From the search of truffles, “it’s a passion,” says Giovanni, who goes there “morning and evening” during the season, from 21 September to 31 January.
The University of dogs truffle was founded by his great-grandfather in 1880 and Giovanni Monchiero cultivates this heritage with the idea that if all the dogs can’t become a truffle, all races have their chance. “There are dogs that are predisposed to seek out the truffle, others are not,” says one who has even a small pinscher German a true expert.
By reason of one or two dogs at the same time, he has trained tens of truffle, even if it did not take into the account the exact. “Master Monchiero is the best of all the Piedmont. This is the third dog that I entrust to him,” says Diego Guaraldo, owner of Rocky. “It does not use cruel methods of execution, such as depriving the dog of food, but mild methods,” noted the lawyer of 36 years, stressing that, the trainer turns the dog in “real champions”.
Feel to 20 meters
“He managed to trigger something in the animal, which becomes a crazy truffle. This is what we all seek, we researchers of truffles. It is necessary that the dog be meticulous, focused, imperturbable by the smell of the game”, he adds. With the master Monchiero, “the animal feels the nose to 10, 15, 20 feet away,” says Mr. Guaraldo.
The three-week training with Giovanni costs 400 euros. The master explains that he teaches his students “three times a day”, but stops when he sees that the dog is tired or is tired”, to borrow an hour or two later. “This is a basic course.
To become a good truffle dog, it takes an average of three years. The important thing (after the training) is to train the dog in a permanent way, not necessarily every day, but one day out of two,” says the man in his fifties.
Rocky has all the capabilities to become an excellent truffle dog. But its small defect is… that it eats the delicate nuggets ! Nothing serious, according to Giovanni : “He knows to pick up the truffle, the find, it will only teach him to make an exchange truffles-cakes”, he says, while pointing out that some dogs gnaw always a bit on the nose.
But, have fun Diego Guaraldo, “it is better to have a truffle slightly damaged in my pocket than a beautiful nose in the pocket of the other !”
Dave Zakarian has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Koz Post, Dave Zakarian worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella.