by Jaclyn Whitehair
Forget dog is a man’s best friend: How about a monkey?!
Helping Hands is a unique non-profit organization that provides FREE service capuchin monkeys to people with spinal cord injuries.
Michael, a customer of Helping Hands, talks about Kathy, a capuchin monkey, who was brought to him for service reasons and has proved to be extremely valuable in many areas. “Kathy’s assistance, has allowed me to work for the first time. I work from home as a writer for a national publication. Kathy turns on my computer and printer, helps me turn pages of books — all things I need to do my job.”
Many of the Helping Hand users love the companionship the monkeys bring. Helping Hands chose to use monkeys over other service animals because of their dexterous hands and amazing fine motor skills. Capuchin monkeys are the smartest of the monkey breed. They are great at turning pages, scratching itches, retrieving dropped objects, inserting straws into bottles, turning on buttons/switches for remotes, phones, computers, etc., and repositioning limbs on a wheelchair. They also are small in size and have a lifespan of 30-40 years.
Monkeys are trained at the The Thomas and Agnes Carvel Foundation Center or “monkey college,” complete with monkey dorm rooms! Here they learn everyday tasks and communication techniques. The main goal is to prepare the monkeys to be loyal and loving companions.
After a monkey is properly trained, Helping Hands reviews applications and begin reviewing prospective monkey owners. A rigorous selection process occurs in order to place the right monkey with the right owner. Helping Hands seeks to find the perfect match. Because with the right match, a lifetime connection and companionship is made!
To learn more about the Helping Hands program and meet the monkeys check out their website: http://www.monkeyhelpers.org/