Type to search

From hunting truffles to saving lives, dogs eagerly prove their worth


In Italy, some dogs, especially the Lagotto Romagnolo, are trained to search for truffles. These are a type of mushroom fungo (foon-go) that grow underground, and they are a favorite across the world for their unique taste. There are black truffles with an earthy aroma and taste, and white truffles with a sharper smell and flavor. Some truffle hunters use pigs to root out these mushrooms, but since they will often eat them more people are using dogs who have a keen sense of smell and have been trained to search them out. They also do not eat them when they find them.

In many cold weather climates where people could not cross hundreds of miles of frozen land (terra) by vehicle, humans trained dogs to pull slitte (slee-tay) sleds to deliver supplies and mail to remote areas. Breeds such as the Samoyed, Alaskan Malamute, Siberian Husky, and Chinook were well suited to this job. While many of these areas are now served by airplanes, these breeds of dogs are now used in one of the world’s most famous dog races, the Iditarod. This is an annual dogsled race which takes place in March between Anchorage and Nome, Alaska in the United States.

Dogs can also train for water rescues. In Italy, the Italian School for Rescue Dogs has been training canines to save people from drowning for many years. The most popular breed for this job is the Newfoundland because they have a strong build and a water-resistant fur coat. Once they learn the rescue skills, some work as lifeguards at Italian beaches and others work with the Italian Coast Guard. Today there are several hundred trained dogs working in these positions.

We all know how much dogs love to chase le palle (lay pal-lay) balls. It’s not just for fun but can also become a job for them! Beginning around 2016, at the Brazilian Open tennis tournament, specially trained rescue dogs have been retrieving tennis balls during the various tennis matches. The dogs even wear scarves and sweatbands to show they are part of the team! Since they are rescue dogs, it also helps them to get adopted.

I don’t think dogs are too interested in art, but they can be trained to “sniff out” insects and other pests before they can damage i dipinti preziosi (e d-pean-tay prez-e-oh-see) precious paintings. The museum of Fine Arts in Boston hired a pooch named Riley to detect the pests and then to lay down in front of the artwork. This way the museum staff can check the work and take steps to protect it from damage.

Therapy dogs have an important job to do as well. They can offer comfort, affezione (ah-fetz-e-oh-nay) affection and support to people in nursing homes, hospitals and even in schools. Mamma was watching the news several weeks ago and we heard that a dog kept running away from a shelter to a nursing home. After several “escapes” the nursing home staff adopted him. Now they call him “Dr. Dog” and he gives lots of love to everyone there.

Alla prossima! Until next time!

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