Any breed of dog can hunt truffles, a farmer from out Braidwood way told me recently.
All that matters is whether you have a "nose-up" or "nose-down" dog.
A Schnauzer favouring the "nose-down" approach, Vincent usually seeks more urban quarry such as discarded thick shakes, detectable at 20 paces in the right wind conditions. McNuggets or fries? Twice that.
So when he abruptly changed direction last Sunday morning, I knew his canine olfactory nerve was onto something.
It is a sad fact that people leave food remnants all over the place.
Even as a puppy, I remember Vincent picking up a scent trail on a local oval.
He began frantically turning this way and that, nose buried in the turf, until he arrived at the base of a permapine post.
It was only when I got closer that I noticed somebody had placed a chocolate-chip cookie on top of it - probably to spare their own dog at the time.
An apple core in the bushes is one thing, but chewing gum, mints, chips and sultanas? These things lurk in the shortest grass and can be toxic to dogs.
A particular fancy is the semi-consumed hamburger bun - often soggy with sauce and fat.
I get why anyone with a vaguely adult palate might blanch at finishing this cakey counterfeit, but really?
With even less notice than Scott Morrison gave our French "friends", Vincent can dive into a hedge only to be dragged out backwards, convulsively wolfing said "contra-bun" like a prison escapee.
So, there we were, en route to Manuka last Sunday morning - just hours after World Cleanup Day, incidentally.
Azure sky, perfect stillness, and an almost monastic quiet - perhaps the only upside of lockdown.
Passing the old Brumbies grounds, Vincent suddenly darted leftward, stopped short only by his harness.
After relocating my left shoulder, I eyed an ugly scene. A gravel carpark strewn with burger boxes, bags, soft-drink cups with plastic lids, and wrappers smeared with ersatz cheese. And an astounding number of fries.
Such blights are not unknown in this otherwise tidy precinct, and tellingly, they're pretty much all branded by one vendor, McDonald's.
I've complained about this before, and tagged the American franchisor on Twitter for what I contend is a daily function of its business model.
Doubtless, McDonald's does much good in the community, not least as a major employer of young people, a source of affordable meals, and as a provider of toilet and Wi-Fi facilities for the marginalised.
Yet for all that good, people across the country cite similar littering scourges adjacent to McDonald's, KFC, and equivalents in their own locales.
Some will say singling out the Manuka outlet is unfair. But is it really? There are 10 or so restaurants and cafes in Manuka alone, almost all of which sell coffees and other takeaway items. Yet their packaging is rarely seen in the streets nearby, and virtually never in the local parks.
Another common retort is that it is not McDonald's breaking the littering laws, but its customers, over which it has no control.
Like all truisms, this is both undeniable and a dead end. It offers no practical answer to the chronic littering problem short of extra police and/or surveillance cameras in every park. And again, at the community's cost.
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The problem remains that the franchise's business model relies on that disconnect with its takeaway customers, and washes its hands of their behaviour in the free public dining room.
Go to the top of Red Hill over the summer months, and a similar morning blight is common. Ditto the kids' playgrounds on Captain Cook Crescent and Telopea Park.
In economics, this is called an externality - a known cost passed to a third party without increasing the sale price for a given good or service.
Firearms manufacturers have never met the unconscionable social costs of their products.
Big polluters have been externalising the damage of their emissions for years. Shameless politicians have even won elections on the shabby promise of protecting that absurdly antisocial privilege.
McDonald's is currently gracing our screens with nostalgic soft-focus images of its glorious 50-year Australianisation, the creation of "Macca's".
We'd be wiser to reject the spin and look instead at the parks, lanes, and waterways. Here, you're more likely to notice the company's 50-year indifference to the environment.
Responding to me on Twitter, @bradjohnd wrote: "Use number-plate recognition in drive-throughs and print it on packaging. Not very hard to do."
Perhaps, but before going all Orwellian, why not ask the company to own its byproducts through the full cycle? A price signal would soon see it reduce its packaging, and could prompt other solutions.
Solutions that would be in everyone's interests, including the "nose-down" dogs.
- Mark Kenny is a professor at the ANU's Australian Studies Institute and host of the Democracy Sausage podcast.