A Nose For Art: Meet The MFA's New Four-Legged Employee

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — The newest employee at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston is one of only a handful of specialists in the country doing what he does.

He's also a dog.

Riley, a one-and-a-half-year-old Weimaraner, is tasked with using his superb sense of smell to sniff out moths, silverfish, and rodents that could damage priceless artwork.

"Anything that could potentially harm the artwork, it's Riley's job to try and find it for us before it gets to the artwork," his handler, Nicki Luongo, told WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe. "There's always a concern from the outside that something might get in. A shipment might get in, we want him to scent that crate and make sure that nothing is coming in here that is contaminated."

At the museum Wednesday, Luongo, gave a demonstration of the pup's sniffing abilities before a group of dozens of kids on April vacation.

She hid several dead moths and moth larvae in the museum's cafeteria and, within a minute or two, Riley sniffed out their scents and was rewarded with treats.

Riley was first shown off to the public when he was just 12 weeks old—and before staff knew if his pest-detector training would work.

"Everyone knew this was a real trial, and we were taking a real out-of-the-box look at it, and we just dove in," Luongo said. "The museum has been very supportive and open in allowing our creativity to sort of show through, and it's been a great experience."

Luongo said she was caught off guard by Riley's super stardom.

"We certainly did not expect that," she said. "Actually it started because I sent out an everyone, all locations kind of e-mail saying, 'heads up, if you see a puppy, it's not just that I brought my puppy to work ...' Someone I guess tweeted it, and here we are!"

A book has been written about him—"The Adventures of Riley The Museum Dog."

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WBZ NewsRadio's Kim Tunnicliffe (@KimWBZ) reports

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