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A thai truffle dog – lesson 3

June 15, 2010

Today I took a spade and dug 12 holes in an area Ruben has not visited before. Then I took a handful of Thai truffles (Astraeus hygrometricus, an earthstar mushroom which is popular in Chiang Mai) and put them in two of the holes. I covered thoroughly, and then I mixed the sand with my hands of the other ten holes, so that these controls would smell of me too.

Then I fetched Ruben, and we took a walk first to get rid of excitement and natural needs. When he seemed calm, I let him sniff the white string of cotton, which I had kept in the fridge together with the truffles. I tied the string to his collar, to remind him of the game we were about to play. I told him “search”, and he began sniffing around eagerly.

He did not care about my control pits, but he was clearly interested in the hole with the truffles, but he did not know what to do. I talked to him in an excited voice and started digging myself. When he started digging too I took him aside and rewarded him with tender words and a cracker. However, as there were no nearby place to tie him, I had difficulties holding him and digging at the same time, so eventually when the truffles showed up, he ate them (as before). Well, this is a training exercise. The aim is still to make him find and mark truffles. In a real situation another person could hold him while I dig, or I could tie him to a tree, but that will make us lose time. The best scenario is to have him finding the truffles and then sit nearby waiting for his cracker. The problem though, is that Ruben, like truffle pigs, loves the taste of the truffles. 

I repeated today’s lesson, as I had another hole with truffles, and this time he went digging straight away. Progress!

Eric Danell

Lesson 1

Lesson 2

Ruben, the Dokmai Garden truffle dog, and Mika (Master Bacon) are waiting for a ride with the rice tractor.

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