OK. I read the following story last night, and it got me thinking. It's about a guy who sustained a spinal cord injury about 5 years ago, and was left a quadriplegic. He now depends on a 'helper' monkey to assist him.
Whoa, wait a minute...
Like so many things, at first blush, it sounds like a great idea. The monkey can retrieve things, turn on lights and music and, according to this story, can even play games.
The story says, "She (the monkey) sleeps in his room. She has become his partner and friend. Ned says, “More than just companionship, I always felt like she’s a wingman. She’s like a copilot.” Ellen (his mother) says, “She fills a huge void in his life.”
Now, is it just me, or are there others who are scratching their heads about this, too?
First of all, the guy, Ned, should be relying on human companionship to fill "a huge void in his life", be it in the form of family, friends, or a caregiver / companion. If he's relying on a primate to fill a void in his life, then there are a few homo sapiens who have a lot to answer for.
I 'get' the concept of people loving their pets, and even depending upon and being grateful for service animals, guide dogs for the blind, for instance. But to say "she has become his partner and friend", and that the monkey sleeps in his room, etc., well, I just have to wonder. I do.
For starters... who takes care of the monkey?
If the comments at the end of this story are to be believed, these monkeys are diaper-wearers for their 40-year life span, and are prone to relieving themselves wherever, whenever, when startled. Clearly, this monkey relies on human intervention to keep it clean, to feed it, etc. Which leads me to the salient point of this whole matter...
Why isn't Ned being looked after by a human, too?? Remove the middle-monkey from the equation. Whoever it is that's looking after the monkey - knock that off, and look after ol' Ned instead!!! WHY does the monkey rate human care, but Ned does not?
I'm amazed, quite frankly, that none of the article's commenters picked up on that. Or maybe I am just more of an 'outside the box' kind of thinker than those who have commented so far. It just strikes me as very odd.
Maybe it's because I see so many instances these days of nurses being removed from traditional and appropriate nursing roles in favor of less-educated individuals. Canadian Blood Services is no longer hiring RNs to screen potential blood donors. This is being done by people off the street, with no nursing background, who are being relied upon to make decisions as to whether or not individuals are appropriate blood donors.
Then there are dialysis units throughout the United States who employ on-the-job-trained technicians, not RNs, to staff dialysis units. It's all well and good when everything is going well. But, you're dealing with individuals who have chronic health problems to begin with. The benefit of having health care professionals continually monitoring - and more importantly intervening - is being outweighed by the cost-saving measure of hiring uneducated non-professionals in that role.
And now, it's looking like the trend is not even moving towards technicians or untrained personnel. Now, the trend is to hire a baboon. It's not giving me a whole lot of professional pride, gotta say.
And, forget the whole 'professional pride' argument. The guy probably doesn't need RN-level care. A home care worker, even a community volunteer, would adequately meet his needs, and have the added benefit of not slinging sh*t every time the phone rings.
It's a wild animal. No matter how tamed or trained it is, it is a wild animal. They have no capacity to "love", they have the capacity to not eat you as long as their needs are met. As much as animal lovers will argue the point - yawn - animals do not possess human emotions, do not have personalities (as they are not persons), and have millenia's worth of inbred instincts that will outweigh the best scratch behind the ears you can give them.
I'm not an animal hater. I'm an animal realist.
This is not a symbiotic relationship. It's all very much one-sided. Take your typical puppy. The puppy will roll over and beg, the owner will give it a treat. Give and take. Not so with this helper monkey. It's doing all the work. Monopoly and Scrabble don't come easy to monkeys. It's poor brain must be so confused - swing from the chandelier? Or buy Park Place?
And another thing. It's one thing to consider this in the context of a total stranger. For just one moment, consider leaving one of your own loved ones in the care of an orangutan. I couldn't do it. I could not go off to work in the morning and think about a loved one of mine sitting home, playing Yahtzee with Bubbles.
Here's a photo of Bubbles with Michael Jackson, back when Mike was black. Talk about a confused monkey...
It's all too ridiculous. I used to fear ending up paralyzed and dependent on someone. Now, I have to amend that fear and hope I don't end up paralyzed and dependent on a chimpanzee. Ridiculous!