By Mary Lynn Campbell
The story that you are about to read is an amazing story which we people who have been rehomers of monkeys could only dream about happening. We hope that it will give all of you a reason to not only learn more about becoming a caregiver of a rehomed monkey, but also to help you understand more about these wonderful creatures ability to love unconditionally as we humans do.
Let’s begin our story with a list.
Important things to follow when you are choosing to accept a rehomed monkey into your life
- Remember to acquire all records that may be available for the monkey.
- Try to acquire as much history as possible about the monkey’s early life.
- Make sure to prepare all necessary paperwork that will need to be signed by the family that is surrendering the monkey to you.
- Be prepared to tell the family what your plans are for the future of their monkey.
- When accepting a rehomed monkey it is very important to make sure that the family understands that there needs to be a necessary period of time before they will be able to spend time with their monkey.
- When accepting a monkey as a rehomed monkey, it is very caring and important to be a good listener. With each monkey that is rehomed there are always many stories and special memories that the family will be telling you about.
- Along with the stories there will also be a time that they will be getting clear about why they are choosing to bring this monkey to you.
- This is the end of their time as the caregiver of their monkey and they will be feeling many emotions.
- When the monkey is settled with you and it is time to say your final goodbyes, this will be your last time to be very clear about your arrangement.
- Paperwork should be signed after they understand about the visitation delays. This should be put on the paperwork and any other pertinent information should be added to this paperwork before it is signed by the family and by you.
- Make sure that you have their past veterinary information if it is available.
- Paperwork must have a place for you to put their name, address, phone, and the number of their car tag and of course, your address, phone and a copy for each of you to keep for your records.
- Many families will wish for you to send photos, and updates about their monkey in the days that follow. Making this an option for them is also very helpful to families that wish to feel peaceful about doing the rehoming of their monkey. You may or may not wish to add this arrangement to the signed paperwork.
Special Note: It is never easy to say goodbye to a monkey who you brought into your home to love and care for. Choosing to be a person who can be carrying and understanding about the issues that are centered around the families reasons for rehoming their monkey has always seemed to be a very helpful thing. In doing so, they are able to find closure and are able to move forward with their decision to rehome their monkey.
I hope the note above will be helpful to you if you are faced with either, rehoming a monkey or accepting a rehomed monkey into your life.
Change is very important when living with monkeys.
In living life, we humans seem to keep doing the same things over and over again and we just keep getting the same results when we have a problem. With my understanding about this becoming a normal way of dealing with life’s problems, I decided early on with the monkeys to make frequent changes in their lives. Of course, my lifestyle was so different from most peoples due to my business of traveling and living many months out of the year in a motor home and traveling between two homes.
Everything had to be flexible in my life so change was always a part of the monkeys lives, but I knew that if I had a problem developed with the monkeys that I had to act quickly to change something in order to see if making a change would help with the problem.
Many people talk about keeping everything on a schedule and being aware that change is hard on monkeys and their behaviors. But for me, I did not know about doing this so my monks have always lived like I do and that is definitely flexible.
When newly rehomed monkeys first come to me I feel that it is very important to ease them into my lifestyle. When I have a problem with a monkey I believe in trying everything that is possible in my bag of tricks, and if my tricks do not work then I go to my network of experienced monkey caregivers and veterinarians for their thoughts on other things that I might try. I am not only committed to help my own monkeys to be happy and content, but to help others achieve this with their monkeys as well. If these monkeys are going to live in captivity in our homes then I feel strongly in doing everything possible for it to be a wonderful experience for them as well. The lives of all monkeys are important to me. If they are not happy then I suggest we all ask for a peaceful solution even if it may turn out to begin looking for the right family to rehome them with. Every monkey deserve to have a chance at having a happy life experience.
Every monkey does not need the same things to be happy. Each and every monkey is different with different needs. This is why you need to make changes to see if something different can help them reach a state of happiness. It is great to see monkeys happy with other monkeys but not all monkeys need to have other monkeys in order, to be happy. Giving a monkey lots of unconditional love, colorful enrichment toys, and other things that you can choose to enrich them with is wonderful but choosing to share the gift of yourself is the most important thing that you can do. Remember that the gift of your time goes a long way in providing a monkey with an environment that they can be happy in.
This last statement is a very important thing to remember when you are making up your mind about bringing a monkey into your life, especially when you have children or several pets. What type of experience are you and a monkey going to have if you are unable to have quality time with them?
“The Timing Issue” is always an important thing to think about when you are making a big decision such as adding a monkey into your life.
Opie’s Life Change
Opie’s story has been posted here on this site under the title Opie’s Re-Home Story. You visitors who are not regular visitors may wish to read this former post to be able to get the full story of our precious Opie’s Journey.
I have been so thankful for the education that this little monkey has provided me with, but the story that I am telling now has completely made me know that she has turned out to be a monkey that has broken all of the rules of being a rehomed monkey.
The family that rehomed Opie always let me know that if I could not take care of her that they would like to have her returned to them. She has been the first and only monkey that has come to me with this type of request. As I look back upon this request, I can see why the friendship with them and my wish to educate them in case they were to become Opie’s caregivers again was perfect for the future of all of our lives. It was like the pieces of the puzzle were thrown onto the table and none of us knew how they would fit together, and then one day they would just fall into place and make a beautiful creation.
SunShine MonkeyShines was the third home for Opie, who turned out to not be a brother to the other little baby that was purchased with her. She came with a history of being a biter of children and others. She did not have a history of ever biting her primary caregiver as far as we knew.
In the beginning of my relationship with the current owners of Opie started as a friendship. When we first met, they had just acquired her as a rehomed monkey and were trying to learn everything about being the best possible monkey caregivers. I remember on that day that they did not have Opie with them but I did get to meet Opie’s favorite little dog who had been with her for several years. The original owner also rehomed to them this little dog.
In the beginning of our relationship we would talk often and I also would get one of them to help me with the editing of my “Living With Monkeys” book. I remember the time of the year was in November and it was also near Opie’s eighth birthday. When we would talk they always had questions about what they were reading in the book and about how she was doing with the new things that they were learning to do for her. They now knew that a belly band and a lead needed to be attached to her every time she spent time outside of her cage. They also were becoming aware of how important her diet changes were in order, to help with Opie’s diabetes problem. She had come with diabetes medication, and this was always one of our most important parts of our conversations. So as you can see from this story, our conversations were full of what I love to talk about and that is the monkeys.
We also made plans for Opie to come to be with me during their annual trip up north every September. Things were very normal in our friendship but there seemed to be a growing concern about Opie’s behaviors centered around her monthly cycle, which had us somewhat full of questions. They had been told that she had been fixed at a vet in Mississippi when they found out that she was a girl and not a boy, but to me her behaviors made me question that she may have not been given a hysterectomy at all.
I received a call right before Christmas that Opie had experienced a very interesting day at their home and had put herself and all of the other animals in a very dangerous place. Opie had let herself out of her cage and had spent the long day being out opening medicine, cokes, and any other thing that she could find to open. She not only partook of all of these magical things for herself but she choose to also share these things with all of the other animals that were enjoying everything that she threw on the floor.
When her family arrived home they thought their home had been broken into but then quickly saw Opie sitting on the counter with a huge smile on her face. I understand now that the entire weekend before Christmas they had some very sick animals on their hands due to what they consumed while Opie was out on her day long exploring time.
Soon it was Christmas Eve and there were so many extra things going on in my life with all of the holiday festivities. I received a frantic call from them telling me that I must take Opie and that I needed to promise that I would take her. It was a very emotional time for them and I was hoping that they would take my advise and sleep on their wishes for Opie’s life change.
Bright and early the next morning another call came in with the same request that I had been asked to do the night before. I knew that it was best for the whole situation to say ‘yes’ that I would take their Opie. The plans were made for me to come and pick her up at their business in two days. These plans were made due to the heartbreaking feelings that they were having due to their decision to give her to me and my troop so I told my husband that Opie was coming.
From the very beginning I knew that her family wanted to do the right things for their beloved little Opie. They had their reasons why they were choosing to do this and I felt that they were valid concerns and reasons but I also knew that they were totally in love with her and that they would be apart of mine and Opie’s life forever.
So, this was how my friendship and time with the Little “Nutty, Monkey Opie” started. I do hope you will take the time to re-read the stories about her. What a character she has been.
Opie did have to have exploratory surgery soon after she arrived here due to her cycling repeatedly. The outcome was that she had probably had babies before and that she had definitely not been spayed. Her ovaries looked very suspicious of being diseased so a biopsy was sent off to determine what might be the problem. When the test came back it showed that she had cystic ovaries and nothing further was wrong. We were all so happy that she would be okay and be spared any further problems and that she would begin to be much more comfortable and normalized.
It took some time for Opie to become more like a normal monkey but for our little girl monkey the words ‘normal monkey’ has never really fit very well for her. While she was going through the final stages of the hormones changing, she once again bit. This time it was my good friend Lisa whom I have written about many times in my post. Every time I look at the scar on her arm and hand I feel so sorry that she had to be the one to get the last bite that Opie has ever given to another human. She loved Lisa and she was becoming one of her favorite people to spend time with when she was present. We both learned some important lessons about having more than one monkey with teeth out at the same time and this is when we made the new rules with teethed monkeys for us both to follow.
Many wonderful things happened in Opie’s life following her surgery. She made a wonderful bond with my little Marmoset named Chewie, and then she began to adjust really well with another girl monkey in my troop by the name of Sophie. They were different types of Capuchin monkeys but that did not matter. They were a wonderful team and become wonderful friends.
Opie and Chewie / Opie and Sophie
Another wonderful thing that happened was her former family was able to begin visiting her here at Opie’s new home with me and then in the months that followed she was also being able to visit them privately at their business together for 4 to 6 hours. It was always so sweet how she handled her relationships with all of us. She never threatened to bite or use any of behaviors that she had done with any of us.
With humans Opie was a little doll, but with the other members of the troop (other than Chewie and Sophie) she was not so much of a little doll. She was a trouble maker and kept the troop all stirred up every time I came into the area of the monkeys and many times when I was not there I could hear her big powerful voice make trouble from other parts of the house I might be in. Opie was definitely “A Very Nutty Monkey.”
Many times our messages or talks were about Opie and what she had done this time, when I would mention her to her previous family. Opie was so full of mischief, and non normal types of behaviors but it did not matter we all loved the beautiful little Opie.
Many changes happened during both of our lives. The previous family had adopted more rescue dogs and they had even brought two pigs into their lives. Of course, new people were in and out of both of our lives but we shared a common love for our friendship and our love for Opie.
I was constantly teaching them every thing about being a good monkey caregiver because we all knew if something happened to me that they would need to take over again as Opie’s caregivers. So, our monkey talks, and visits were always fun. When you are a caregiver of monkeys, it is such a fun time when you have people to talk to that understand about your feeling about caring for a monkey. It is great to not have to explain how in love you are with them. It is just a known fact if you have a monkey that you totally love them beyond words.
Down throughout the four years that Opie was with us there had been so many times I had wished that they did not have the pigs in their lives because I truly wanted to say, “I have had enough of her being so nutty. She will be happier with you than me so I am bringing her back to you!” But I was not able to do this due to the pigs. I knew that there had been some destructive behavior from the pigs and deep inside of me I just knew that Opie would not take well to them being in her former home. The other most important thing about her leaving my home was that I dearly loved her and how much our relationship had grown, so I just kept on doing the same things with her because I had tried everything there was to try to normalize her with my troop.
Opie’s Chooses Her Pathway
With the arrangement in place about Opie’s life, if I could not keep her. I only had one option about helping her to reach a state of happiness and that was to stay with me because as long as the pigs were in the previous owners life, I knew that she could not go back to them. In May of 2016, life started to change for me when little Chewie (our 20 year old Marmoset’s) health started to change. As the months passed by each month there were issues changing very quickly with his health and I knew that he was experiencing his journey to the other side of life.
Opie’s previous family came often to visit with him and of course, the other monkeys. At the end of August or first of September they had come to visit us one last time before they left on their vacation up north. On this visit we did not have a very long time to visit with the monks because we made plans to do some other things on this visit so their time was limited with spending time with Opie. While we were out I remembered to ask about how the pigs were doing. Their response was limited but I do remember them saying it was going good.
On Monday after their weekend visit I received a message from them telling me that they felt that they needed to tell me the story of them having to re-home their pigs to a special facility just for hand raised pigs. The telling of this story was a very difficult one and I knew now that they had gone through some very hard times in dealing with the issues with the pigs that had gone very badly.
I remember how sad I was to hear of the difficulty that they had gone through but very honored that they wished to share this story with me. After hearing their story my mind turned to Opie and how now, if I chose, I could send her back to live with them. I spent many hours thinking about this but finally came up with the best possible decision and that was to continue to love and care for Opie in my home.
There were so many things going on in my troop at this time. Chewie was definitely passing and my home and life had become a hospice for him. Opie was trying to take over the troop from Maggie Mae as the alpha female and then on top of that, the boy monkeys were joining together and teaming up on Maggie Mae when the three monkeys were together. On top of everything else, their primary monkey caregiver (me) was trying to be the best caregiver for Chewie and trying to cope emotionally to being able to say good-bye to him. All of these things joined together made for a very unbalanced time in my monkey troop.
We Communicate With Our Monkeys Through Our Mind Pictures. Yes, they know what we are thinking or what we are about to do because they read our thoughts and feelings through being able to see our photo visions. We are constantly expressing things to our precious animals even when we are not talking about them but through them reading our minds.
The above statement is true. The entire troop was in the process of getting very mixed messages from me which was also mixing with their own emotions to make the troop very nutty. So, during the next week is when Opie made her decision about how her pathway would change.
On this particular day that I went into the monkey room to feed, I had allowed Sissy to have a spend the night with Cheech and there was a lot of excitement when the monks saw me walk into their room to feed them. There were many sounds of woo-woo-woos and of course, Opie was also stirring up everyone with her huge cry. I am never sure of which of the monks that I am going to feed first because I just look down and pick out a key to open one of their cages. It just happened to be Opie and Sophie’s cage key.
When I feed the monks, I try to hold whichever monkey who chooses to come towards the door for a big squeeze. It happened to be Opie on this day so just as I was pulling Opie into my arms, she lunged and pulled her body towards Sissy who was holding herself up on the door of her cage. I quickly pulled Opie back from her as fast as I could. I looked down and I saw blood on Sissy’s hand and I immediately held Opie’s face in my hands and walked to the center of the monkey room. I said very firmly, “Opie, if you have hurt Sissy, then you are out of here! Do you hear me Opie? I have had it with you!”
After speaking these words to her I relocated Opie into another cage and then quickly went to pull Sissy out of the cage to see what damage had been done to her. The troop was absolutely going crazy because most of the troop is very prejudice against Sissy or maybe I should say jealous due to her being the star of my presentations and her being a black and white Capuchin.
As I was opening up the cage that Sissy and Cheech were in, I could not yet see what had happened to Sissy but I did know that I saw a small amount of blood centered around her hand. She was angry and making her sounds along with the other troop members. Finally, I had my hands on her and was able to see what had happened. Opie had bitten Sissy’s little finger completely off of her right finger above the knuckle part of her hand.
So much was going on at this time in my monkey room. Opie knew that she had messed up and would not look at me. Sissy was mad and all of the other monkeys were upset and hungry and I was in shock and then I saw something on the floor that had pink nail polish on it. Yes, it was Sissy’s little finger. After this sighting, things moved very quickly for me.
I took Sissy out of the monkey room and located her into her regular eating cage in the kitchen and realized that she must go to the vet. I called him, fed the other monks, and then got myself together to make the 25 minute drive to the veterinarian’s office. Before I could leave I knew that I must also hand feed Chewie and get him cared for to be away from the house for a possible long time. I readied a travel cage for Sissy and I also took an outfit which would cover her hand after the veterinarian worked on her missing finger.
Inside of myself I wanted to take Chewie to bed and cover up my head but that was not possible. I had to continue to kick into gear and handle this emergency. Lisa and Danny Covington were so wonderful to meet me at the vet’s office and Bob also chose to drive me there. Lisa and I had planned on spending some time together so it was nice that Danny volunteered to bring her to the vet’s office. Things were falling into place and Lisa would be with me to settle my troop down when we returned from getting Sissy’s hand taken care of.
I feel that God sends me angels when he knows I need them, and this was one time that the angels lined up to give me support. Thank you, Bob, Lisa, Danny, and the staff at Dr. Bradbury’s office for being an extension of God’s love and carrying on this very stressful and sad day.
We all said repeatedly, as we were waiting for the veterinarian to begin, “I am so upset with Opie, she must go. You have no choice and she knows that she must leave.” As we each thought about what had happened and would express our feelings, we each would say the same thing. We were all four very concerned about her once again doing this to one of the other monkeys in the troop. Opie had definitely pushed the limit to what monkey behaviors we were willing to accept from her here at SunShine MonkeyShines.
I am not sure when I called to tell her previous family what Opie had done to Sissy’s hand or exactly what I said to them but I do know we all understood that Opie had worn out her welcome in our home. My feelings were so mixed up and now I had three of my monkeys not doing well, Chewie, Sissy, and Opie. I tried not to have fear about her hurting any of the other monkeys. I just knew that an injury just could not happen like this again, to one of the other monkeys.
You know when you look back on things you can see things so differently if you choose to open to look at them with the mindset of trying to understand the reason for things happening in the way that they do. I am a person that believes we call all lessons to ourselves to learn from and to see how we will choose to respond to what has happened. So, now, when something happens (as soon as I can get clear enough and far enough from my emotional outburst and stop judging) then the clearer things begin to open up so that I can see how to look at what has happened in the highest way. There is always reasons why something happens with our monks. I of course must take responsibility for what happens first but then I must get clear about what was going on in the mindset of my monkeys. This is imperative if I am going to make the wisest possible decisions and changes for my troop.
During the time that things began to become clearer, truths started to emerge into my mind. Sissy was absolutely fine. Her little surgery had gone, so fast and easy and so did her recovery process. She seemed to be completely kept out of pain and she really enjoyed the extra attention. She did not play with her stitches or have one problem of healing very quickly.
Sissy Lou-La-La healing from Opie’s Ugly Bite
Opie knew that she had upset me and was not looking at me even when she came out to get her playtime or her feeding time squeezes. She was not engaging with me at all during the time after she hurt Sissy. It was as if she was allowing us time to detach from each other or maybe she was embarrassed by what she had done.
I have to take the responsibility for letting her see my mind pictures about the pigs no longer being with her previous owners which meant that I now had the option for Opie to return to them. I was the one that made the plans the last time that her previous owners had come to visit which limited her time with them, prior to the accident happening with Sissy. The absolute truth was that I opened my mind to looking at a possible change in Opie’s life. I was not ready to open to this change but I believe Opie’s saw my mind pictures of her doing back to her previous owners and this was really what I knew was best for Opie. The events I guess just had to play out as they did.
The troop soon after the accident returned to normal. Maggie Mae was once again the strong alpha female and her two best friends Mickey, and Pincher were treating her respectfully. Opie was just rocking under her blanket most of the time. Sophie was not trying to take over the role as alpha now that Opie was no longer being teamed up with her. I chose to separate the two girls from each other so that if I did choose to go ahead with taking Opie back to her previous owners. I needed to think clearly about each of the monkeys in my troop especially about Sophie and Opie. Sophie would need to be given the time to adjust to not being with her beloved Opie.
Chewie was enjoying his special time with me and growing a little weaker everyday. My heart was breaking over the up-coming return of Opie and the future loss of Chewie that was approaching very quickly. It especially hurt to know that Opie was showing no sign that she loved me at all. This all came at the time that the previous owners family took their vacation time up north every year, so there were more than two weeks to wait before we could take her to them.
When it came time to take Opie back to her previous home, Lisa and I decided to also take Chewie with us so that they could also see Chewie one more time before he passed away. It was so much fun to allow him and Opie to have a good-bye visit time with photos being taken. It seemed to lighten up the very sad time within my heart of saying good-bye to Opie.
As it turned out it was the last time Opie and Chewie would see each other because Chewie passed away three days after taking Opie home. My heart was broken by not only loosing Chewie but to have to return Opie. It felt like I had lost two monkeys at the same time and these two monkeys had shared a very special bond with me and with each other.
The early days of receiving messages and photos from Opie’s family was very hard. I wanted it to be working out wonderfully but I was not able to deal with so much happening all at once. I wanted them to be happy and be able to practice all that they had learned about being great monkey caregivers but there had not been any healing between Opie and me before we said good-bye. It honestly felt like both monkeys had died. I expected the loss of Chewie due to his age and continued loss of health but I did not expect for any of this to happen with Opie. She and I had grown very close since she had come to live with me. She was a beautiful monkey and when she was by herself she was the perfect monkey to spend time with. I even dreamed one day of being able to share her in a limited way in our presentations.
I knew I had the tools to deal with the emotional issues that were happening to me with the loss of Chewie but he had been my special little tiny boy monkey. He and I were so very close emotionally but the loss of Opie was far from being healed. I was so hurt, angry, sad and totally heartbroken from all that had happened.
Then something happened to change it all. It was just before Thanksgiving and a text came in from Opie’s family telling me that there had been an unexpected death in the family and that they were going to need to go out of town. They asked if it would be okay for them to bring Opie to stay with me while they travel to the funeral. Of course, I said, ‘yes’ and we made arrangements for them to drop her off on their way out of town. I was not sure how it was going to feel or be with having Opie back with my troop but I did know that she was doing remarkably well being back at home with their family.
As it turned out, Opie and I were able to have our time together and there was love again between us. I even asked to keep her with me extra days so that we could enjoy our time together. Somehow, someway, Opie’s heart had also healed from all that had happened and the miracle of love that these precious creatures of God’s can have for us humans came rushing through. I must say that this experience and then the time at Christmas when I kept her once again while they flew out to the west coast, has let me see without a doubt that something very miraculous took place in all of our lives.
The loss of Chewie is still very difficult but a great deal of healing came to me because I realized that I did not loose my special little “Nutty Monkey, Opie.” We are all just loving and sharing her. She is very spoiled and has become a very happy girl monkey, who has a very boy kind of name.
“Opie’s (Happy Photos) Gallery”
Opie turned twelve years old in December 2016. We hope you have enjoyed the newest photos of her since she has been returned to her previous home. A photo truly says a 1,000 words.
This site and my book “Living With Monkeys” were both created to help people educate themselves with information that will help them make better decisions about obtaining a monkey to add to their lives. Bringing a monkey into your life is a life changing event not only for you and your family but for the life of the monkey who you may choose. Educating yourself and your family members is an important key to becoming a great monkey caregiver. We wish for all monkeys who are raised in captivity to have happy lives.
One very important thing that I say repeatedly in my book is, “There are no guarantees that everything is going to workout great when accepting a monkey into your life. The big question that you need to ask yourself is this: “Am I ready to bring this type of experience into my life and the life of my family?”
Just because you have seen someone else have a wonderful experience with their monkey does not mean that you will get one with the same type of disposition, intelligence, physical health, emotional health or a good personality. You never know, you might get a “Nutty Monkey” too. Having a monkey is a life changing experience, and if you are well informed, then you know that it is a very serious choice in which, you are making. Please do not take this choice lightly.
God Bless – Mary Lynn
Choose to be the very best Monkey Caregiver that you can be.
Thank you for visiting us here at Primate Care. We are committed to bringing good information for you to think about and share with your family, friends, and other monkey caregivers.
Written by Mary Lynn Campbell author of “Living With Monkeys”