This week, as I was watching the news, I saw the story of Riley and his new canine career and it has to be one of the best news stories I’ve seen in a while. Riley is a twelve-week-old Weimaraner who is training for his new job at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. His job is to detect insects that might harm or even destroy the artwork and artifacts that the museum is working to preserve.
When new items are brought into the museum, Riley will give them the sniff over. If he detects any moths or other bugs, he’ll sit down in front of the item. This tells his handler that he’s found something that could potentially damage some of the other items in the museum, especially textile, wood and organic things that can be particularly fragile.
Unfortunately, most of his duties will be behind the scenes at the museum, but he is generating a lot of interest. He’s the first dog to work for a museum or hold this job. He was chosen because Weimaraners are known to work well with their noses, are fast and have a reputation as a hardy breed. His job is important because new additions to the museum are the main means of pests getting in, and they are often undetectable to the human eye. Riley can smell what the people there can’t see, and potentially save the museum a lot of money, not to mention preserve some priceless treasures.
I admit, working with Riley would be a dream job for me. It seems like a pretty good canine career path, too. Spending all day with works of art, seeing new things as they enter the museum and having a dog to work with all day all sound like serious job perks to me. I have been following the news of all the tech gadgets that are being invented to make our lives easier with a lot of interest, and yet none of these things can top a canine nose. For as many advances as we make, there are some things that we still can’t replicate or make better and dogs seem to be one of them. I’m also hard pressed to believe that a robot would ever be as cute or fuzzy as a dog, too.