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Apply for a Monkey

We support all our service monkeys for their entire lives.

Eligibility Requirements

Helping Hands has carefully developed the following eligibility requirements based on our decades of experience with environments, circumstances, and conditions that are necessary to make a monkey placement work. Please watch the video below and read each requirement carefully.

If you meet each requirement, complete our online inquiry form. If you prefer, write us a letter describing how you meet the requirements. Mail your letter to Helping Hands, 541 Cambridge St, Boston, MA 02134 or email it to apply@monkeyhelpers.org.

1. You demonstrate responsibility and maturity
The responsibility of having a monkey helper is comparable to the responsibility of having a young child. Individuals who apply for monkey helpers should be at an adult age and stage in life when they could take on the responsibility of having a child. Most of our applicants are over 21, but in some cases we can accept applicants who are 18+.

2. You can communicate verbally
You must be able to speak and understand English fluently. Applicants need to enunciate clearly when speaking to their monkeys to give task command words and must also be capable of daily communication with a Helping Hands staff advisor via phone or Skype. Please also note that Helping Hands cannot assist people living with blindness or those who are deaf.

3. There are no young children living in the home
Monkeys require a stable, relatively quiet, uncluttered home environment in order to perform their tasks accurately and reliably and to feel safe and secure in their partnership with their recipients. Young children under the age of 12 can be unpredictable and make it difficult to maintain the structure that monkeys need. It is also not reasonable to expect a young child to understand the complexity of a monkey’s hierarchy and the recipient-service animal relationship.

4. You are at least one year post-injury or post-diagnosis
After a spinal cord injury or a new disease diagnosis, you need time for your life to stabilize. Modifications to your home environment, training for your personal caregivers, and other support systems should all be in place before you can be considered for a monkey helper.

5. You can identify a reliable person to assist you in your monkey’s care
We require that you identify one family member or primary caregiver who will help you care for the monkey and his/her daily needs. This can be “unglamorous” work, and is often challenging in the beginning, so it is important that this designated person fully supports the decision to receive a monkey helper.

6. You have unimpaired cognitive function
Individuals who receive monkey helpers must have good decision-making skills, especially in situations when monkeys, like children, occasionally “test the rules.” Individuals who benefit from monkey assistance and companionship must also be able to coordinate and monitor the daily care and health of their monkeys. In some cases, applicants with mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) may be eligible if they can understand and follow the strict daily guidelines required for a service monkey.

7. You spend most of your time at home
A service monkey is trained to work in the home environment only (not in public). But since monkeys are social animals, it is important that they are not left alone for long periods of time on a regular basis. Individuals who are home most of the time—not in school or working full-time outside of the home—are ideally suited to have a monkey helper.

8. You have sufficient motor ability to control a manual or electric wheelchair
In order to perform tasks with a monkey helper, you must be capable of moving independently about your home in your wheelchair.

9. You are motivated and committed
Applicants must be motivated to complete the application process thoroughly and invest the time and commitment necessary to fulfill Helping Hands’ requirements. Although you may rely on help from others to care for your monkey, you are ultimately entrusted with the tools, education, resources, and responsibility for your monkey helper. Maintaining your relationship with your service animal will require your full attention and commitment. Not only does the monkey require your care, but the strength of your bond is a critical motivation for him or her to perform tasks. Helping Hands must know that you are strongly committed to making this process work.

10. You have patience, adaptability, and a sense of humor
The initial year of any new placement brings a lot of challenges and ups and downs. Patience and a sense of humor are key as you begin your journey with a new monkey helper. In addition, you will need the ability to continually adapt not only your home environment, but also your own behaviors and expectations. This ability is crucial as you learn more about hierarchy, setting goals, and following instructions.

Please note that the presence of certain impairments may disqualify an applicant from receiving a monkey helper:

  • significant psychiatric or emotional impairments
  • 24-hour ventilator dependency
  • blindness
  • deafness
  • heart conditions or seizures

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