by JUDY REED
For 10 years now, Mike Cook of Solon Township has been using dogs he’s trained to find some of the first morel mushrooms each year. But when his dog Pugsley died a couple of years ago, he had to start over and train a couple of new dogs. Enter Muffin, a one-year-old dachsund, and Toby, a blind one-year-old dachsund.
“Morels smell funny, so I get them used to the smell, like training a drug dog,” explained Cook, when asked how he trains them to find morels.
Recently Cook took them out on a test run. Cook spotted a morel from his truck, and let Toby out to see what he would do. “He went crazy barking, and even though he’s blind, he was able to find them,” said Cook. “He ran around in a circle around them, and we got them all in about 15 minutes.”
The mushrooms shown in the photo are about one-third of what they found near Algoma Avenue and 17 Mile, in Solon Township. “Now if only I could get the dogs to smell trout for me,” Cook said with a laugh.
Cook said that the morels seem to grow best around ash, poplar and dead elm trees, old apple orchards, and land that’s been burned.