AN HOUR BEFORE THE SUN RISES,
Renzo and his dogs Frida, Rocco, and Ringo begin their journey deep into the forests to hunt for one of the world’s most precious ingredients- truffles.
The forest is quiet, completely serene. The only sounds heard are the slight rustling of trees from the wind and birds, and the crunching sticks and leaves as Renzo and his dogs trek through.
The forest is dark at this hour, barely any light passing through the trees. The world has not woken up yet, and Renzo and his dogs get a head start.
Legally, a truffle hunter has only 2 hours to hunt for truffles. They begin an hour before the sun rises, and in these short hours, the dogs have to be completely focused and diligent.
Renzo grew up truffle hunting- his father and grandfather were truffle hunters. This isn’t a job, but a way of life. This is the life Renzo knows and loves. As a young boy, Renzo would walk through the forests with his father, learning the ways from a master truffle hunter.
Renzo, like many other truffle hunters, love the white truffle season. This is the most prestigious truffle, which makes the game of hunting all the more fun. There is more excitement in the air, and if you pay close attention, you can smell a light touch of garlic aroma permeating through the forest as the white truffles become ripe and ready to eat.
All of Renzo’s childhood pets were dogs – dogs with a duty. Every dog in the home was for the purpose of truffle hunting. He grew up with many, and many breeds. The most popular is the Lagotto Romagnolo, but Pointers and Braccos are desired breeds as well.
These dogs have a long family lineage of truffle hunting. A hunter invests his time, money, energy, and love into creating the best truffle-seeking dogs. Although these dogs come from strong family lines, it does not necessarily mean they will become a good truffle seeker.
These dogs begin their training just a few months after they are born. They follow their parents through the forest, to learn the ways of the truffle hunt. They witness the bond between hunter and dog, and the ultimate joy of finding these hidden treasures. Typically, the work span for an established truffle-seeking dog is between 2-8 years of age.
Renzo’s 3 dogs vary in age, and although each dog is a skilled hunter, they all have completely different personalities. Frida, a Lagotto Romagnolo, is 5 years old. She is very calm compared to her brothers, and frequently wags her tail to show her excitement.
Rocco, a Pointer, is almost 4 years old. He loves to jump. When he’s excited, he will jump so high, you can almost look him straight in the eye!
And then there’s Ringo. Ringo, a Pointer, is almost 10 years old. He will do just about anything for a good belly rub. Although he has passed the typical age of hunting, he is still very skilled and determined. However, in the recent months, he has become slightly deaf.
When a dog finds a truffle, there is a command yelled and the dog knows to stop digging, as to not ruin the exterior of the truffle. However, in Ringo’s case, Renzo walks up close to him, bends down, and lifts up his ear. He speaks into his ear, and tells his friend that he can stop digging.
These dogs work very hard, and after their focused hunt, they go home and relax. Their time is always spent with the truffle hunter and his family. They are like any other dogs, and love to play fetch and chew on delicious snacks and toys. Most of the time they are sleeping, as they need to rest up for their arduous duties as truffle seekers.