Part of this past weekends Napa Truffle Festival at Robert Sinskey’s Carneros truffle farm. We were served a lovely selection of Sinskey wines and offered an in-depth introduction and demonstration on how to train dogs to find truffles. The demonstration was spearheaded by Truffle Dog Company’s owner Alana McGee. We also had introductions a short presentations on the art of truffle farming by Managing Director and Chief Truffle Officer of the American Truffle Company, Robert Chang and Chief Scientist, Dr. Paul Thomas.
A truffle orchard tour/dog training demo follows the Grower Seminar where you’ll be greeted with a glass of Robert Sinskey wine.
Meet the Truffle Dogs
- Gig the English Shepard
- Rico the Lagotto Romagnolo
- Mila The Lagotto Romagnolo
Truffle Dog Company – “Why Use Dogs”
Why not, we say! Properly utilizing dogs (or pigs) for locating truffles is more gentle on the environment (and we think more fun!). Unripe truffles lack odor, and therefore don’t have much culinary value. Using dogs allows us to find only the ripe truffles with their amazing aromatics, thus preserving and ensuring optimum culinary value. Dogs also pinpoint the location of ripe truffles and thus less of the environment and fragile duff layer of the soil is disturbed when collecting.
For many of us dogs are also part of our daily lives, and live with us as pets. Dogs have amazing olfactory capabilities that far exceed our own, and most dogs thoroughly enjoy scent games. Truffle hunting with dogs is a natural and fun way to enjoy working and playing with your canine family member.
Can any dog find truffles?
We like to say that almost any dog, and any breed, with the right training, can be trained to find truffles. It is more about individual personality and how you work together as a team. You don’t have to have a Lagotto Romagnolo (the traditional Italian truffle hunting breed) in order to be able to train your dog for truffle hunting. No breed, or mixture thereof, is off limits. We have trained or worked with Chihuahuas, Corgis, German Shepherds, Labs, Spaniels, Cattle Dogs, Newfoundlands, American Staffordshire Terriers, Great Danes, French Bulldogs, and the list goes on. Most dogs thoroughly enjoy hunting for truffles because we make it a game!
Truffle Dog Company Founder – Alana McGee
Truffle Dog Company’s Alana McGee will present the Science of Canine Truffle Scent Location and Practical Implementation. Alana holds internationally recognized certification from The Certification Council for Professional Dog Trainers. Her credential as a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge Assessed (CPDT-KA), the gold standard of dog training certifications, affords her the latest scientific knowledge related to dog training and professional excellence in the industry.
As a founder and representative of the Truffle Dog Company, Alana’s expertise is canine scent detection training specifically aimed at the domestic truffle industry, as well as harvesting services for truffle orchards and tree farms. She has worked with and trained some of the only professional harvesters in the United States. In March of 2013 Alana and her dogs found the first ever cultivated Tuber melanosporum in Canada. Alana presented their find, along with other novel developments on the indigenous North American truffle front at the recent International Workshop on Edible Mycorrhizal Mushrooms in Guatemala in August.
Together with her business partner, Kristin Rosenbach, the Truffle Dog Company is shaping the field of recreational and professional truffle hunting. During the winter months you can find Alana and Kristin out in the woods harvesting native black and white truffles as well as searching for Tuber melanosporumand other cultivated species in orchards along the West Coast.
For more information about online truffle dog training classes and other services offered by the Truffle Dog Company, click here to sign up for their newsletter.
Dynie Sanderson – “NapaFoodGal” is the Food and Flavor Editor for Napa Valley Life Magazine with over 15 years as a contributor. Editorial features focus on food, wine and travel.
Dynie has written for a variety of regional lifestyle publications and was the founding Publisher/Editor of Napa Valley’s GuestWest Magazine.
Active member of International Food Wine and Travel Writers and Bay Area Travel Writers