Man Gives Shelter Dogs a New Life Truffle Hunting
Lifestyle| | By Lauren Boudreau
A man in Canberra, Australia is giving shelter dogs a new life and purpose by bringing them to his farm and turning them into truffle hunters.
Jayson Mesman trained dogs for law enforcement for 12 years. However, he came upon truffle farming while working for customs in Western Australia. Truffle farming is a very difficult, expensive, and almost impossible to do without trained dogs or pigs sniffing out truffles from underground.
“I actually go into the pound and look for the dogs that people quite often can’t maintain,” Mesman told ABC Australia. “Those with a really strong hunt drive, wanting to play constantly, the dog that chases the ball until he falls over almost.”
Mesman said he noticed people frequently giving away labrador retrievers, not realizing how high-energy they can be. Lucky for Mesman, labradors make perfect truffle hunters because of their natural retrieving qualities and good sense of smell.
The dogs are trained to find the smell of underground fungus and each work for different reasons. He says that the key is finding that “niche that they want to work for.” However, none of the dogs see truffle hunting as “work.”
“The key is making sure they’re having a good time,” Mesman said.
For one of his dogs, Simba, it was trickier than usual to find what he wanted as a reward.
“We couldn’t get Simba to work for us. I’d spent hours in the paddock with balls, food,” he told ABC Australia. But when his partner Danielle gave Simba a hug, he found his first truffle.
“All he wants is a hug.”