Thirty dogs will have their eyes on the ground and their noses on high alert Saturday for truffles at the The Joriad North American Truffle Dog Championship. Spectators at the event will see the first two rounds of the competition, says Leslie Scott, the Oregon Truffle Festival’s co-founder and general manager, with the five finalists hunting in actual truffle patches at an undisclosed location in Lane County in the afternoon. Truffles are a delicious, seasonal and difficult to grow fungi needing a special environment for which Oregon is ideal. And dogs are especially able to sniff out truffles, as the championship will prove. Any dog is welcome to compete, and Eugene Weekly’s own Biggie Pit Bull, a rescue from Los Angeles (pictured), had his turn in 2015, proudly getting past the first round. After the pandemic put a pause in the annual event in 2020, Scott notes that there has been changing dynamics to the competition. There’s fewer dogs from beyond the U.S. West, and just one from Canada that entered. The truffle fest puts on annual truffle dog classes, but this year’s have sold out. Still, those yearning to know about truffle-snuffling can come watch the low-key family-friendly championship and the competition for the modest prize of $500. It’s for the dogs and, of course, their owners. “They just love doing this for their dogs,” Scott says.
The first two rounds of The Joriad North American Truffle Dog Championship are 9 am to noon Saturday Jan. 28, at the Lane Events Center Large Animal Arena, 796 W. 13th Avenue. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. More information is at OregonTruffleFestival.org.