Sometimes I joke that Bertie dog should get a job and help pay the mortgage. And I’m only half joking. As a feast and famine freelance writer, some form of canine contribution wouldn’t go amiss. He has lots of potential, you see; it’s simply a matter of how I direct it. It all started with Christine who sold him to me. She fed Bertie and his nine totally adorable chocolate brown roly-poly snuggly, squeaky, nipping and biting siblings on Advance puppy formula. Now Christine, bless her, is big on ideas (lots of them, all at once and in no particular order) but rarely follows through. I, on the other hand, am a list-ticker and like to get things DONE. So I emailed the advertising people at Advance with my proposal. I suggested they might like to photograph the chocolate brown babies and use them in their marketing collateral. I could already see something along the lines of ‘Premium Pet Food for Premium Pups’ and an ad with my boy and his siblings romping across TV screens. Suffice it to say that nothing happened; I didn’t even get a reply.
Then last week as I was working on something, I heard a rustling kind of noise. I ignored it for a bit but then it came closer. Bertie had gone into the bathroom, got hold of the loo paper and pulled it around the door, through the laundry and into the dining room. Aha, I thought. Here is another modelling opportunity. We all know that toilet advertising and cute puppies go together. Some of my all time favourites are the Andrex ads in the UK featuring plump baby Labradors. The trouble is that I couldn’t get a shot of Bertie in action, only one of him sitting admiring his handiwork with a guilty look on his face.
Today I treated myself to a delicious lunchtime bowl of potato, kale and celeriac soup at McGain’s, the gorgeous nursery and cafe in Anglesea. I drank my soup slowly and leafed through a few copies of Country Style at the same time. One of them fell open at an article about truffle farming in Tasmania.
A few years ago I had truffle-infused custard at a friend’s dinner party and, foodies will be in up in arms, but I’m not really sure what all the fuss is about. But what I do know is that you can’t harvest truffles without dogs to sniff them out. Reading the article, it sounded like truffle hunting for dogs is pretty much a scratch and sniff affair. Bertie has the keenest nose ever – he can sniff out food from a hundred paces or more – so what am I waiting for?!
A Google search has just come up with an organisation called Aussie Truffle Dogs – ‘Our business “nose” your truffle needs’ – and there’s a dog like Bertie on the front page of their website. What’s more, there are training classes in Geelong and the Macedon Ranges. Oh, but wait, reading on it says that Aussie Truffle Dogs was formed to ‘provide purebred registered working dogs to fill the harvesting needs of the truffle industry.’ Looking at Bertie, I’m sure his breeding is impeccable but I don’t have any papers to prove it. And I would have had to start his training when he was a pup. Regular readers might remember that he turned one just before Easter meaning that in human years he is about 15.
However, there is something else he excels at: paper shredding. I’m not sure why I bothered to buy a paper shredder when Bertie does the job with such gusto. Today, he demolished a paper bag in seconds. The only trouble is that he doesn’t clear up after himself. He leaves that to me. Typical teenager!