ECPN had the opportunity to speak with Nicki Luongo, head of Protective Services at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, to learn more about a very special four-legged volunteer at the MFA.
Riley the Museum Dog
· Occupation: MFA Volunteer
· Credentials: American Kennel Club S.T.A.R. Puppy program graduate
· Birthday: October 14, 2017
· Ear length: 5”
· Favorite MFA artwork: Hugo and Brenda! (Pair of Great Danes, 1907 by Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington. On view in the Calderwood Courtyard)
· Favorite pastime: Rope tug
ECPN: How did the idea to hire a dog come about in the first place, and does Riley have any special qualities that might make him better than other dogs at helping with integrated pest management (IPM)?
Nicki Luongo (NL): Discussions between the Conservation and the Department of Protective Services began in fall 2017. Weimaraners are very intelligent and have an incredible sense of smell. Riley’s duties as a scent dog at the MFA are well suited to his breed!
ECPN: Have you trained dogs for service or nose work before?
NL: In my spare time I’ve trained working K9’s for many years, so it’s exciting to be able to apply these training skills with Riley to work with the MFA’s conservation team.
ECPN: How many hours a week is Riley expected to be “on duty”?
NL: Once Riley’s completed his training, he’ll be on duty as needed.
ECPN: Who cares for Riley on his off-hours? And what are his favorite activities outside of “work”?
NL: Riley lives with me and loves to play hide and seek, rope tug and nap in his free time.
ECPN: How does Riley’s role fit into the MFA’s larger IPM strategy? What other IPM tactics does the MFA currently employ and how will Riley’s role supplement and enhance these protocols?
NL: In addition to the current conservation protocols we have in place, Riley will act as an additional layer in protecting the Museum’s collection. His extremely sensitive nose can be trained to detect the presence of pests that are hidden from plain view.
ECPN would like to extend sincere thanks to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston for the paw-some opportunity to learn more about Riley. For more information on Riley, visit his page on the MFA’s website: https://www.mfa.org/about/riley-the-museum-dog