The new life of rescue dogs starts right at the moment it gets rescued. Most of the time, they are brought to shelters, wherein they are cared for, until they get fostered and finally adopted into their new loving homes.
Over the years, quite a number of rescue dogs have ventured into various career paths as well. Some become service dogs, others police dogs, and well, Canberra recently opened a number of slots for truffle hunting dogs.
With the help of a young man with a kind heart, rescue dogs are now being trained as truffle hunters in the land down south. To know more, read this inspiring story below.
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Jayson Mesman has trained law enforcement dogs for 12 years but a decade ago he stumbled across truffle farming while working for Customs in Western Australia.
He now owns the ACT’s only truffle farm in the foothills of Mount Majura. His “farm hands” are dogs rescued from pounds over the past decade.
“I actually go into the pound and look for the dogs that people quite often can’t maintain,” Mr Mesman said.
“Those with a really strong hunt drive, wanting to play constantly, the dog that chases the ball until he falls over almost.”
Mr Mesman said Labradors were often given up for adoption.
“Owners are grabbing the cute, cuddly Labradors that everyone sees on the Kleenex ads,” he said.
“They don’t realise they’re a natural born retriever, so really high-powered … and they don’t realise that until their nice manicured backyard gets ripped to pieces.”
Truffle dogs are specifically trained to find the scent of the underground fungus and are rewarded with play, pats, praise and food treats.
“Each dog will work for different reasons,” Mr Mesman said.
“Every dog is trainable, it’s just finding that key niche that they want to work for.”
Mr Mesman said his dog Simba worked for hugs.
“My partner Danielle is a dog lover but has never trained a dog,” he said.
“We couldn’t get Simba to work for us, I’d spent hours in the paddock with balls, food.
“He found his first truffle when Danielle gave him a hug.
“All he wants is a hug.”
Traditionally pigs have been used, but dogs are easier to train and to work with according to Mr Mesman.
Labradors are commonly used because they are scent-dominant and can be trained to smell out the pungency of a ripe truffle.
Well, cheers to a new life for these doggies! And to more truffles!