Monk is a black Labrador. He has accompanied Mariam Motamedi-Fraser to Goldsmiths, for staff and student meetings, since September 2015, when he was seven months old. He now joins her on the third year option module, Thinking Animals. Monk's role here is to help sensitise both Mariam and students to the lessons that animals can teach, even – or perhaps especially – in unusual contexts (Oliver, 2009, Animal Lessons).
Monk has participated in many training classes, both as a learner and participant, at The Dog Hub (www.thedoghub.co.uk), where Mariam is a volunteer apprentice. Like most Labradors, who were originally bred for hunting and fishing, and who are hard-working and companionable, Monk enjoys the energy and shared focus required for training. He has more fun catching a ball that he has had to 'work' for, and any game that involves his sniff will have his full attention. Compared to humans, who have six million olfactory receptor cells in their noses, dogs have between two hundred million and one billion (depending on breed). They also have more than eight hundred different kinds of receptors. In celebration of this glorious nose, Monk and Mariam are currently learning about scent work, trailing and tracking.
Given that he is virtually waterproof (webbed toes, rudder tail, double-coat), Monk has a curious dislike of rain.