Billy & Phoebe
Billy was the outgoing friend who made sure everyone was included and was everyone’s best friend, according to Deb, his mother. “Everyone knew, if you needed something, call Billy. Unfortunately, this all ended on August 20, 2017, when Billy had his accident, breaking his C4 & C5 vertebrae and leaving him paralyzed from the shoulders down. You never know how someone will react to such a tragedy. Some are angry, some feel this overwhelming sadness and think their life is over, and others take it as a challenge to overcome.”
Two days before Billy’s accident, he got a raise and a promotion. Two days after his accident, he was slated to go back to school to get his Master’s Degree. Instead, Billy spent the next six months in a hospital ICU and rehab center. “His smile and contagious laugh made all around him feel at ease and recognize just how special he was,” Deb recalled. “Even under some of the worst circumstances a 26-year-old could face, Billy continued to shine through the pain and face the unknown.”
A year and a half after Billy’s accident, enter Phoebe, “a beautiful little capuchin monkey with tilted head, tongue sticking out, and all of her adorable expressions, wanting to be a part of Billy’s life,” said Deb. “Their bond was instant.” Having been placed with a couple of recipients already in her career, Phoebe had been waiting at the Monkey Living Center for her next perfect match to come along, someone she could play with, groom, and assist with daily tasks. When the staff at Helping Hands got to know Billy, they knew they would be the ideal pair!
“Phoebe’s daily sessions with Billy start with snacks, and end with a quiet nap on Billy’s lap,” said Deb. “One of their favorite daily games is ‘stuffed mice.’ Tiny stuffed mice are put on top of Phoebe’s enclosure and Billy asks Phoebe to get him a mouse. Phoebe throws each mouse towards Billy – he yells ‘YEAH’ and then asks for another. Phoebe jumps around looking for more mice and throws each one to Billy. These small but important interactions bring Billy back to life.”
Deb said that Phoebe is “the very best thing that could have happened to our family since Billy’s accident. We see the smiles she brings out in us and the happy sounds that she makes when she sees Billy. We witness her joy as she sinks into her bath to soak and watch as her playfulness changes our family. Billy’s paralysis means he has no feeling from the shoulders down. When Phoebe climbs up to groom his head, play with his beard, or share a treat, it’s special because he can feel Phoebe’s caring touch! She’s part of our family. Our little Phoebe brings a smile to Billy’s face, warms his heart, and helps him know that tomorrow is a new day with hope just around the corner.”