Thursday 7 October 2021

Truffle hunting or nappy sniffing?

Since we returned from our trip to Torridon last week, I've been struggling to gain Gail's attention as she's had her nose deeply inserted into two library books, both apparently highly absorbing (she says), in very different ways.

As usual, I insisted on speed reading the two volumes, scouring the pages for canine-relevant material that might be of interest to followers of this blog.

First the Ben MacIntyre book, 'The Spy and the Traitor'. I really thought I'd drawn a blank in this true story about the Russian double agent Oleg Gordievsky. Until, that is, I reached page 301. It's 1985 and the KGB have rumbled that Gordievsky has been spying for the Brits. And in this tense scene we encounter a Soviet sniffer dog, at work on the Russia-Finland border but being distracted by the wife of the MI6 Moscow chief changing her baby's nappy on the boot of the British Embassy car. The whiffy nappy fortuitously disguised the fact that Gordievsky was hiding inside the boot, sweating with fear, escaping almost certain execution for his traitorous activities.

One can understand how the poor pup got confused. The book does not tell if he was later punished by the KGB for dereliction of duty. I surely hope not.

Perhaps the dogs in the other book had a more enjoyable working environment. In the opening pages of 'Entangled Life' by Merlin Sheldrake (a book about mycorrhizal fungi - yes really) we meet Kika and Diavolo, two Italian dogs who also earn their keep by means of their superior scenting ability. Roaming the woods with their handlers Paride and Daniele, these Lagotto Romagnolos  sniff out Piedmont white truffles. Apparently dogs are favoured over pigs for this highly skilled work as it is not so easy to train a pig not to devour the much prized delicacy immediately upon its detection. Who knew? 

Soviet spy sniffer, or tasty truffle tracer - which would you rather be? 


  1. the truffle finder of course... but we think da Nelly would act like the sniffer pigs with eating the 500 euro truffle in 2 seconds LOL

  2. Hari OM
    Hmm, well, there is a bit of me, Bertie lad, who takes a departure from your enquiry and ponders whether I might make any kind of spy... though I could put myself forward for either of these jobs you highlight due to having a rather sensitive schnoz! Hugs and wags, YAM-aunty xxx

    1. We know, at least, that unlike Nelly and the pigs, you would not devour the truffle!

  3. My human says I'd be very good at sniffing, but I might eat any truffles I find! In fact I'm known to eat everything vaguely edible I find! I'd rather do that though, than be a spy.

    Inca xx

  4. beau and I voth vote for the truffle sniffing due to the Fear Factor Mama lives with, spy sniffing is way to dangerous.. i just finished a book that i could not put down and then was upset it was done...

  5. We think both jobs would be fun but if truffles are edible we might go for that over being a spy sniffer.

  6. Bertie should you tire of being a pampered and loving companion to Gail....I think you would make an excellent literary reviewer. Well done on both books and sniffing out the K9's in it.
    Speaking if nappy sniffin' the mighty mini Dachshund Toto was absolutely obsessed with the nappy of our wee toddler neighbor when we first moved in her was quite embarrassing.
    Hugs Cecilia

  7. I would definitely want to sniff truffles!

  8. Hi friend, Ojo here! Tasty truffle sniffer for sure! Yum! Also I think that is a new cover photo - we love it very much!

  9. Hmmm, that's a tough one. Maybe we could split and do both:)

    Woos - Lightning, Misty, and Timber

  10. Thanks for the reviews. If you sit on Mommy's lap while she leaves she will put a sweet hand on you.

  11. Hmmmmmm...that's a ruff one. Arty says Soviet Spy for SURE...while Sunny says being a sniffer dog would be much more interesting!

  12. Our mom loves spy stories so she is going to look up that first book! But of course, we would rather hunt for truffles!

    Rosie and Redford