Innovative Solutions for People        Living With Physical Disabilities

Innovative Solutions for People
       Living With Physical Disabilities

Craig & Minnie


Monkey Helpers - Craig & Minnie - photo of Craig and Minnie

Craig sustained a C-5 spinal cord injury as a result of an auto accident just weeks before his 30th birthday. Craig and Minnie were paired together in 2004.  A lifelong Anaheim Angels fan, Craig loved to watch the games at home with his own personal rally monkey! “Minnie made my life so much richer and fuller,” said Craig.

We interviewed with Craig in 2014 about their 10 years together.  “I was involved in a rollover car accident in 1996 where I suffered a C-5 (cervical no. 5) bone break in my neck, which left me paralyzed from the shoulders down. I was very athletic and active as a 30-year-old before this car accident changed my life forever.”

“After a few years of being confined to a wheelchair, I become very depressed and introverted,” Craig recalled. “I never wanted to leave the house.  A friend of mine wanted to help me get out of my depressive ‘funk’ and thought an animal companion might help. Once my friend told me her ‘plot’ to find an animal assistant, I informed her that I was allergic to dogs and cats and that an animal helper would not work for me. Then, she came across the Helping Hands Monkey Helpers website and said to me, ‘What about a monkey?’”

Once he was matched with Minnie, Craig’s whole attitude changed. “I started focusing on Minnie and her antics and stopped focusing on my situation of being immobile.  I now had the responsibility to care for a monkey as well as Minnie allowing me greater independence.  I no longer was anxious to stay at home alone.  Minnie became my ‘lifeline’ if I dropped a phone, needed a drink of water, a snack, or just a good laugh. She helped me regain confidence, security, independence and my sense of humor.”

Craig’s favorite thing about having Minnie with him was the companionship. “Yes, my freedom and security increased but living alone and paralyzed can be scary and quite lonely. With a monkey in the house – never. Sometimes I would find her on top of the refrigerator, on my bed, or in the living room looking at passing cars. We sat outside together in the California sun and groomed each other.”

“From the start to continuing support, this little primate changed my life,” said Craig. “I got back to my old self (personality-wise), I became more secure with my paralysis, and I am more independent and confident. It opened up completely new avenues in my life. I gained new friendships and rekindled old. It gave me the ability to live more independently, thus saving me money and assistance from others.  I have no idea why I waited so long before applying.” In all the years Craig had Minnie,  “there isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t thank God she is here, waiting for me, every morning when I get up.”

Sadly, in 2020 after 17 years together, Minnie passed away. Craig wrote to Helping Hands in July of 2021. He said: “It has literally taken almost this entire year to get though the loss of Minnie. I have managed to get through every step and this is my last step. Please give everyone my best. It takes time but I am getting better. Thank you for everything, truly. You made my life worth living in a most difficult time.”

If you would like to support the continuing care for post-service monkeys, please consider making a donation today. You can read more recipient stories here

See Craig and Minnie together in the short film, Monkey Do: