The Lagotto Romagnolo is a breed of dog that comes from the Romagna sub-region of Italy. The name means “lake dog from Romagna,” coming from the Italian word lago, lake. Its traditional function is a gundog, specifically a water retriever. However, it is often used to hunt for truffles. Lagotto have been hunting dogs for at least three thousand years, and truffle dogs for maybe a hundred years, if that.
Imagine my surprise when I saw these adorable faces at The Blackberry Farm, an upscale hotel and resort adjacent to the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. The Farm recently started a new initiative to breed Lagottos on property under the supervision of Mr. Jim Sanford, a professional elephant trainer of many years.
These Lagottos were carefully flown in from Italy and given the finest southern hospitality. They receive 24-hour care, heated kennels, and lots of training time among the crisp mountain air. When I arrived at the Farm, a 2-3 weeks old young litter was being nurtured in a quiet room with hay stack and heated lamps.
Training for these Lagottos starts on day 1. The house broken puppies are sold for $6,000, and ones without training for only $3,000. All the puppies from the Blackberry Farm have found good residences, mostly in celebrity homes and in Beverly Hills.
The Farm currently sources black truffles from the neighboring farm of Tom Michaels. Upon finding this treasure trove of truffles, he brought them to the kitchen at Blackberry Farm where they were immediately offered at that evening’s dinner service. So began the relationship with Dr. Michaels, which has lead to the planting of Blackberry Farm’s own truffle orchard.
So on future visits to Blackberry Farm, you may just have the opportunity to harvest your own truffle and have it shaved for you at dinner that very night…and on your farm eggs in the morning!
And if you are lucky, you may even be able to take a Lagotto Romagnolo puppy home.