Meet the Dog Whose Job is to Guard Priceless Artwork From Bugs


The Boston Museum of Fine Arts just hired a professional bug sniffer. At least they hope he proves to be one.

The new hire is a puppy named Riley who is a 12-week-old Weimaraner.

Riley’s new job is to sniff out bugs, moths and other critters that could damage valuable art in the museum, The New York Times reported.

“It’s really a trial, pilot project. We don’t know if he’s going to be good at it,” Katie Getchell said. “But it seems like a good idea to try.”

With more than 1 million people passing through the museum every year, bugs can find their way in by hitching a ride on jackets and shoes.

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Riley will be adding another level of protection against insects that could pose a long-term threat to the artwork.

Currently, the museum’s pest-control defense includes quarantining new artwork prior to its placement in the galleries.

The nostrils of dogs are reportedly better at detecting scents than any technology created thus far. They’ve been trained to sniff out explosives, cadavers, bed bugs, ants and cancer.

Nicki Luongo, a museum employee, trains police dogs in her spare time and got Riley as a family pet. That’s when the museum began to wonder if the dog could be trained to detect insects.

Do you think the dog will be successful at this new job?

The plan is plausible, according to the owner of Pepedogs, a dog-training company.

“Every insect we’ve been able to work with, we’ve been able to train dogs to accurately and consistently detect them,” Pepe Peruyero said.

Peruyero’s company has trained dogs to discover sea turtle eggs buried in the sane and to find larvae on golf courses before they hatch and destroy the turf.

Getchell said that if Riley is successful, the museum will share what they learn with other museums and organizations, according to The Times.

Museum visitors, however, shouldn’t expect to see the puppy wandering through the exhibits. He will be doing his work behind the scenes and whenever the museum is closed.

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Employees don’t want Riley to distract from the museum, so they are toying with the idea of either opening an Instagram account for the local celebrity or have meet-and-greets for his fans, The Times reported.

“The staff are overwhelmed by the excitement to see and meet him,” Getchell said. “We don’t want to deprive the public of that.”

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith