A little over 12 months ago in 2015 Silhouette Luca and I joined a K9 Nose Works class. Luca had developed reactiveness to some other dog breeds and could be quite anxious thanks to a scare he got from a huge thunderstorm. Nose works gave us the opportunity to work alone with no other dogs.
I remember sitting in our first class watching K9 Nose Works trainer, Angela’s, presentations and when she asked if any one has any questions I popped up saying how does one find truffles? Yep the class all laughed!!!
Luca loved this sniffy game with each class his confidence grew and he was slow and very methodical, most of the other Koolies were fast and furious.
We moved on from scenting Birch to Anise and finally in level 3 class we added Clove oil..
It was about this time my truffle dream popped back into my head. I did lots of reading and bought some ‘fake’ truffle product from France called Canitruff as the truffle dogs in Europe seemed to be trained on this from birth.
3rd July we left for Canberra to trial at a Truffle farm!
On the 4th July (AKA Koolie Independence Day) we drive 1.5 hours from Canberra to the Truffière. Minus 1.5 degrees at 10.30am heavy fog and ice everywhere, but no rain. I meet the owners we chat and offered coffee and headed to Truffière with coffee and dogs in hand.
There was no guarantee there would be any truffles the truffle dogs had been over it the day before.
I was asked what dog did I wish to start with and said Luca. Coffee still in hand and Luca’s leash in the other off we go.
There are a variety of trees 25+ long (I think) and I don’t know how many rows all up. The first row Luca picks up a scent and heads to the tree. I am told ‘yep we pulled one out of their yesterday’ He does this another 3 times (by this time farmer Barb can see he has some ability) 4.5 rows in he is on scent again. This time Barb didn’t say ‘oh we pulled one out of there yesterday’, Barb coached me ‘let him smell, there is something there see him sniffing’ Luca looks at me (his signal to me he has found the scent) and I know he has something!
Barb said, ‘ok time to dig, don’t move him away’ as Luca starts to lightly paw the ground. Both humans put human noses to ground to smell for the truffle and start to move the loose top covering of soil, Luca drops onto his belly and shoves his nose through 4 digging hands and Barb says ‘dig where his nose is’ and she lets me dig.
At the tip of Luca’s nose, I see what could be (remember I have only seen them cleaned up and ready to eat – not in situ) the very tip of a truffle, he showed us exactly where the truffle
It’s at this point I forget everything in the exhilaration of what has happened! Thankfully Barb brings me out of this and says ‘let him smell it and treat him’! This reward went on for some time and then Luca started licking my face in favour of chicken treats, Barb said ‘let him, he did this for you, you are his reward, he did this for you let him lick you all he likes’
Luca found an 85gm (uncleaned weight) truffle and made history as the first Australian Koolie in the World to do such
Luca and I hope you enjoyed our adventures and it also reinforces and proves the diversity of the Australian Koolie anything is possible! Dream BIG
‘Koolies Nose’ and have spent the past 12 months training and bringing Silhouette Kyra onboard for the last Truffle season. At the time of writing, we still hold the ‘Worlds First’ two Koolies to be trained and proven Truffle dogs.
Ballarat to Bright, Main Ridge to Mansfield and Bendigo to Beechwoth the Koolies Nose Team did get about and for our first Truffle Season seeking T Melanosproum and T Borchii.
Along the way we all have learned so much and shared this with many of farm owners we met along the way. One we met bought their farm a few years ago and had never seen truffles, let alone had dogs over their 500 trees. ‘Silhouette’ Kyra and Luca identified truffles and when we asked the owners if they wanted to play in the dirt they confessed they had no idea what to do. The Koolies Nose humans went into training mode on many aspects from digging to grading to selling and the future coming seasons.
In July Kyra found our biggest Truffle 332gm (washed)!
Our last farm for the season in August Luca air scented two and a half rows away from the row where we were working a 521gm (unwashed) monster. This was also the biggest this truffle farm had ever unearthed as well!
The Winter weather was ever so kind to us minus 7 degrees in the high-country mornings and crisp sunny days. August saw us in the Beechworth area in below zero, sleet, hail, rain and major river flood watches.
The Team found over 9 kilos of truffles, met many lovely folk, visited some areas of Victoria of outstanding beauty (and great local produce) and secured bookings for 2018 Truffle season!
I am currently training a human and their two dogs to be used by their owners on their Truffle farm in the coming years. I also plan to train another Koolie before next season to join the Koolies Nose Team and possibly another Koolie owner and their Koolie for the future demands.
The night before Christmas Eve (23rd) I had 2 hours warning – to go into Hospital for a sleep test.
My left lung is paralysed and the right lung is packing up as well – and there is the concern that awful things can happen at night.
Well – awful things did happen at night at the hospital – more so than they do at home (at least that I am aware of) and it was at the hospital that I realised that Sisko is the one stopping these bad things from happening – literally.
Ever since I got ill with my lungs (August) he has refused to leave my side – even when I tell him off for coming with me (we have not been able to train since August).
At night because of a right shoulder operation I turn on my left to go to sleep. Immediately I do so – he gets up and places himself rock solid with his back into my shoulder plates and his head on my pillow. I used to think it was just cuddling.
Now I realise that he is physically stopping me from turning onto my back – and I do have rather nasty turns once I get on my back – on my side those turns are very much lighter – almost at times not very noticeable.
So – young Sisko is a hero in many ways and most of all in a way that cannot be trained – instinctively he is helping me.
I always wondered why he stays there – because I do bump him etc – and when I need to sleep on my other side I am forced to actually wake up – lift myself off the bed and then turn square onto my right shoulder – but there is no room to turn onto my back from there so to move I have to again lift up totally and turn
square onto my left again – and there he is still holding me up.
He does not move until I say "OK move" so that I can get up – then he jumps off the bed – but if I cheat and stay there – he comes right back up.
It was always clear that we were meant to be together – him (until 4 months of age) not being eager to meet others etc until I finally decided maybe I should risk
growing my family and coming to get him sight unseen – my making that decision – him immediately turning into Mr Social – no hint of his aloofness – I would
never have known if I had not been told.
Then we had the time to bond (12 months) – now the illness. It cannot be cured – if we can finally manage to stop it from getting worse – then I can work on making the best of it. I have to give up most of my activities – but Sisko extremely surprisingly is adjusting to doing as little or as much as I can cope with.
Sisko is truly a totally fantastic dog in so many different ways.
Cry not for me ,
For I am content
At peace, at rest,
Miss me please,
For I will miss you
The ear rubs, cuddles, games and walks,
All are with me for eternity.
Speak of me often,
Words help to heal,
Memories stay with you forever
And laughter will help you understand.
Remember me well,
For photographs fade with light
Yet snapshots of your mind remain forever today.
I was but a small part of your life
But you were my life,
All I did was for you and with you.
Now I ask you remember me
With a knowing smile
And I will wait for you forever
At the rainbow bridge.
"She won't come to you" my friend Enid said as I informed her that one of her German Koolies had just chased her husband's car down the road, "I had better come with you as she is wary of strangers". So Enid and I jumped in my little car and sped after the runaway dog. I pulled along side of the little blue merle
bitch and called "Here Sparky" and she jumped straight onto my lap. Enid and Ken said as soon as I found a place of my own I could have her and from that day
on I was in love with the Koolie Breed.
When Sparky was about 6 years of age she actually drowned in our dam. It was the middle of summer and my husband and I had been at work all day. Scott, an ambulance officer, had got home before me and let the dogs off their chains. Sparky ran straight down to the dam, as she always did, for a swim. Scott thought it was unusual as Sparky was really thrashing about and her idea of a swim is dip your toes in and get out. Then Scott noticed she had disappeared completely. Racing down he jumped straight in and reaching under the surface found her. Lifting Sparky up he noticed she was blue around the muzzle and was not breathing though he could feel her heart racing. He ran up to the car with her head down draining the fluid from her lungs and giving a few breaths into her mouth and
nose. As they reached the car she had started breathing again so he put her in the passenger side and raced her to the vets. At the vet clinic they couldn't believe that a dog had actually drowned until she threw up all over their counter. Sparky was put on a drip for 24 hours and recovered completely. She was pretty well known around Singleton after that and even appeared on our local news channel.
She was very athletic and could jump up on a horse and sit on the front of the saddle when she'd had enough of walking. When our daughter was born Sparky became her constant companion. Where Lily was you would always find Sparky.
Sparky lived to a ripe old age of 15 when she succumbed to bladder cancer. Our family has many happy memories of this wonderful dog and how she won our hearts and got us hooked on the Koolie breed.
Thank you for letting me share this story with you.
If you can start the day without caffeine or pep pills,
If you can be cheerful, ignoring aches and pains,
If you can resist complaining and boring people with your troubles,
If you can eat the same food every day and be grateful for it,
If you can understand when loved ones are too busy to give you time,
If you can overlook people accusing you when you are not guilty,
If you can take criticism and blame without resentment,
If you can face the world without lies and deceit,
If you can conquer tension without medical help,
If you can relax without liquor,
If you can sleep without the aid of drugs,
If you can do all these things...
Then you are probably the family dog.