Helper Mini-horses, parrots and monkehs

Got agoraphobia? Maybe you need a helper monkeh!

Got bi-polar? Maybe you need a calming, talking parrot!

Got blindness? A teeny guide horse may be for you!

The New York Times is reportin’ that unusual service animals are helping folks with unusual disorders.


Author Rebecca Skloot does it again, Sender-Inner Ida N.!

// Pics and links to more pics/video just added! Many more images and a video over at author Rebecca Skloot’s website here. //




Much more over at Rebecca Skloot’s website HERE!



  1. Boomer's Babysitter says:

    What a great idea! As long as the stores come along with the idea. Somehow I don’t see the average store admitting a mini horse without a problem. Their problem, natch.

  2. I would like a helper monkey with a helper parrot on his shoulder, riding the teeny guide horse.

  3. Oh, no biggie. A service pony is only slightly larger than a big doggington! I don’t think the stores around here would even mind.
    Espesh if he were wearing his prosh service jacket. WHERE IS HIS PROSH SERVICE JACKET?

  4. Haha cute! This idea probably makes sense in more open, less inhabited areas, but it definitely would raise some eyebrows in dense, urban areas. But I can’t imagine seeing anything but guide dogs in dense areas because those are more “socially acceptable.” Plus, it’d be harder to keep leetle horsies in small city houses.

  5. kibblenibble says:

    The horsie has the same colorin’s as the lambie with the nubbin tailio…cute!

  6. Thanks Meg! I’m honored to be on the site. For those interested, there are many more crazy cute pictures related to the story, including a great shot of an assistance monkey helping an agoraphobic woman drive her car ( Sadie the assistance parrot, plus a tiny horse in sneakers ( …

  7. Before I struck up some commentroversy, I just want to say that I DID read the article and that I fully support any kind of animal companionship that is necessary for anyone, especially if a different animal suits them better. If they have the capacity to properly take care of the animal, by all means, they should keep the animal.

    Society can easily accommodate these animals. Heck, if I saw a horsie or a parrot or a chimp in a store, I’d be like, “OMG HOW CUTE! PLEASE LET ME PET IT!” Haha 🙂

  8. hamster-on-rye says:

    We’ve been having some
    difficulties, today. I’ve been sharing the situation with God. Beginning to find answers. Although I do not have agoraphobia, I would enjoy having a helper monkey. Could keep my shirt pocket filled with banana chips.

  9. Thanks Meg! I’m honored to be on the site. For those interested, there are many more crazy cute pictures related to the story, including a great shot of an assistance monkey helping an agoraphobic woman drive her car, plus a tiny horse in sneakers … they’re all on my blog, which you can get to by following the link attached to my name on this comment (this site won’t let me post it directly here for some reason).

  10. Monkey helping to drive car picture is here:

  11. Sorry about the multiple comments! The site wouldn’t let me post the links before. You can go here for fun pictures of Sadie the assistance parrot, a horse in sneakers, plus a video of Panda the guide horse:

    [Got ya covered, Rebecca. The spam filter held it due to the URL referrer you used, that’s all; I’ve published it… – Ed.]

  12. berthaservant says:

    Thank you Ms. Skloot! And we’ll all be sure to check back here later to see the excellent hovertexts to be supplied by Theo!! (Suggestion for last one: “Mrs. Webb, you need to use your turn signal…Mrs. Webb….”)

  13. Haha yay for links and snazzy photos!

  14. Is the helper monkeh good with Hooked on Phonics?

    The parrot backpack cage is one of the coolest things I’ve ever seen.

  15. What’s amazing is that Richard the service monkey does actually turns on the directional signals for her when they drive. Seriously. He knows where home is and he gets excited when they’re close, so he turns on the signals to get there. It’s pretty much the cutest thing *ever*.

  16. kibblenibble says:

    The monkey knows how and when to use the tun signals?!?!? *clunk*

  17. Don’t ponies sort of poop everywhere? I personally want a pirate, uh, parrot, as a helper.

  18. kibblenibble says:

    Okay, I just recovered. I meant *turn* signals. I just looked at the article, and read about Sadie the African Grey parrot who helps her companion with his bipolar disorder. That had me on the verge of tears, because my parrot, Scout, and I were very close. (I had him for 20 years.) So I know how sensitive they are to their humans’ emotions. I know all us CO peeps appreciate how great our companion animals are, but this just really illustrates what a gift they truly are. Wow, I’m tearing up again! Is it hormones? I dunno, but I’m gonna go, now. 😛 Thanks for posting this, it’s awesome.

  19. berthaservant says:

    P.S. Ms. Skloot is pretty darn cute herself. The pic of her talking w/ Richard is teh awesome.

  20. misscrisp says:

    What an utterly fascinating article! Well worth the free NYT registration, those of you who haven’t done it before. Very thought provoking and also brings some hardcore cute. Thanks Meg and Rebecca!

  21. how do the parrots for psychosis work? I don’t understand.

  22. cubbybutt says:

    For whatever reason, the thing with Richard depresses me. I’m sure his life with Rose is much better than it was before, but it still sucks that he had to be born into a “service” life at all. Teeth removed, tail removed. Ugh! Monkehs need to be a swingin in da twees!!!!

  23. I am bi-polor, and my psycho cat is a great help, I’m so glad I’m not as crazy as he is. But I do love my dry-clean only cat.

  24. I’ve got to comment on this one… if anyone is interested in learning more about service animals for different disabilities, I recommend checking out the Psychiatric Service Dog Society’s website:

  25. Amy Beth,

    The parrot learned from its owner the language he used to calm himself down, and when she senses he’s on edge or about to have an episode, she tells him to calm down, soothes him, etc.

    She also alerts him if his antipsychotic medication has fogged him out too much to hear the phone or the door, or if he’s forgotten to turn the faucet off, etc.

    The monkey interests me because a friend of mine has a daughter who is going through severe agoraphobia and anxiety.

  26. Oh so so so cool! I’ve never heard of someone using a parrot before but it sounds like it works really well for him! We need more animals everywhere in the world, why not bring them into our businesses- especially if they’re helping our differently abled brothers and sisters!

  27. samborini says:

    there were some lovely ladies in my restaurant last month with helper yorkies. they were awesome. one was to alert her owner to oncoming seizures and the other helped her owner with hearing and…. something else. it was pretty neat, i sat with them for a long time while they explained it all. their teensy little service jackets were so cute!

  28. I can’t get to the articulllll!! I was recently diagnosed bi-polar and therefore have the perfect excuse to get a parrot!

    P.S. I tewtelly need a “Don’t Pet Me I’m Working” vest.

  29. Juniper Jupiter says:

    I have a feeling they make the service animals wear those “Don’t pet me” vests just to torment me! I mean really! I have this weird animal magnetism thing where I just HAVE to pet something cute and fuzzy! It’s like…BLASPHEMY otherwise! I could SUE! I mean really, most of these folx who have the animals are good to go for FIVE SECONDS!! COME ON!! YOU CAN LIVE WITHOUT YOUR HELPER FOR FIVE LOUSY SECONDS WHILST I SNORGLE HEEEM!!! I mean you can’t keep the softness and the snuggliness and BEEEG brown eyes all to yourselves! You guys who “hire” these animals are really just going around saying, “HAHA!! We pulled one over on JUNIPER because SHE can’t have a doaggie or a kitteh to snorgle and love and hug and squeeze and name George out in a restaurant or a library, but WE CAN!! MUAHAHHAHAHA!!!! We don’t really NEED them for service!! Just for SNORGLING!!! And pretty soon, we’ll start calling it the Capitol RAMP!!! AH HA HA HA HA HA HA!!!!” You give these guys an inch and they’ll just take and take and take and pretty soon they’re gonna end up with a service giraffe (honestly! Or even a service hippopotamus…they’ll always ask if you got that thing they sentcha)! It’s gonna get redonkulous I tells ya!!!! We got to fight for our right to take our animals out and walk them into the restaurants, bars, stores AND places of work!! No more special rights!!


  30. So all these years, Toonces may have been a service cat. Poor much maligned Toonces.

  31. Toonces was obviously the result of the ADA not recognizing his potential as a service animal. It refused him the proper training, thus stunting his abilities, and we all saw what happened.

    Yay service animates!

  32. I want a service duck.

    Rights for people with disabilities! and their animals.

  33. I’m agoraphobic – not as bad as it used to be, I can go outside on my own on short walks at least, and I’m good most any other places with an escort – but I’m pretty sure having a monkey in the house would just make it worse. Who would want to go out when you’ve got a MONKEY to hang out with?

  34. oaklandcat says:

    I never knew it until today, but I tewtally. need. a helper monkeh.

  35. Gail (the first one) says:

    @Rebecca: Great story!!!

    Isn’t it wonderful how someone figured out that these animals could learn to do this???? My ‘kids’ are good at “assisting” me to find their food!! LOL!

  36. If I had a helper monkey, I am sure we’d just end up like Homer Simpson and his helper monkey, Mojo:

  37. Thanks so much for posting this article. It is beyond qte and so informative. I hope Jim was successful in getting Sadie to be considered a full fledged Service Animal.

  38. OMG helper PON1ES!1!!11!!

  39. Hahahaha Theresa! I thought nobody was going to mention Mojo! That doughnut stealing scamp!

  40. Glad you all liked the story (if you’re having a hard time accessing it just follow the link Meg posted, then register yourself for a free New York Times online account, then you’ll see it).

    To answer the poop question: Horses are totally house trainable. In fact, their natural tendency is to go in one place — humans essentially train them to go while they’re in motion because we don’t let them stop and go to their favorite spot when nature calls. Panda the guide horse is housetrained (like most guide horses). She goes on command before entering a business or a house (it’s pretty cute … she sometimes has to think about it for a while before anything happens — she snorts, twitches her tail, and eventually it just happens). If she has to go while she’s in the house, she rings a small bell hanging from a closet door so Ann knows to take her to her stall, where she goes on a small pile of cedar chips in a corner. She’s very clean and modest about the whole thing — she doesn’t like to go when people watch. I posted links to information about how she was trained on my blog Meg linked to above. It’s pretty amazing stuff. You’re right Gail, it’s amazing what these guys can do.

    As for Richard and the turn signals: it’s a bit of a mystery … he just learned from watching what his owner did while she drove.

  41. wannadance says:

    aha! i am in a wheelchair and nearly blind (2 different cruds, lucky me) so maybe i could qualify for TWO service beasties…as it is, jasmine the kitty is there patting my cheek with her warm little paw when i wake up crying from bad dreams (make that THREE cruds).
    animals are amazing, sensing seizures, etc…

    i need a menagerie.

    CRIP POWER, fist to the sky!!

  42. That rather changes my perspective on your screen name.

    Paw to the sky.

  43. I was moved by Jim’s story. I think it’s very important for everyone, up to and including local civic leaders, that Jim have his Sadie with him at all times.

  44. Wannadance-

    What About THREE beasties? The pony to help you shop, the monkeh to assist in driving and the parrot to calm everyone down until you get home to kitteh, after which time parrot would recite salty limericks for entertainment. 🙂

  45. Man. That training vid of Panda is amazing. I believe she wins The Dainty Steps Award.

  46. I also want a monkey…

    “Haven’t you always wanted a monKEY?” (Barenaked Ladies)

  47. wannadance says:

    minya: that is so wonderful!! i can’t drive anymore, weak muscles, eyeettes succumbing to genetics, but maybe the monkey babe could DRIVE me places??

    i just love the idea of a multipurpose multiservice boid…if you knew me IRL, you’d know how hilarious that is. i am the salty type fer real.

    also, have little to lose these days, so have disinhibited to the max, to the delight of everyone in my small city.


  48. wannadance says:

    theo, i used to be a dancer (classical ballet) among other things, and i miss it like breath.

  49. MichieGrl says:

    I am a wee bit depressed. I will need to strap my kitteh to my back from now on…

  50. We tried that once… taking our dog into Millenium Park in Chicago with a backpack. NO DOGS ALLOWED… even in a backpack. Utter bull puckie, if you ask me.


  51. wannadance, if you get the monkeh, I will drive you around and teach monkeh how to drive. then we will all raise hell together. oooh, and we’ll get a horsie to pull your wheelchair! we’ll all pile in a van and frighten the ‘normal’ people.

    Rebecca, you are a great reporter in the service of Teh Qte.

  52. Cute and heart-warming, but seriously!

    “folks with unusual disorders”

    So is there a particular disorder that is considered normal? Couldn’t you just have left it at unusual animal helpers? I normally direct my disabled mom to this site daily – but if she read that she is now “unusual” because of her limitations she’d be pretty down.

  53. Richard needs a wee little safety harness and a safe spot to sit. Buckle up for safety, Richard!

  54. Jennifer – I’m sure there was no harm meant. She was just being all match-y match-y.

  55. Wannadance: here’s a big hug from another crip.

    And don’t underestimate what Jasmine Kitty might be able to do!

    Megumi roused me when I passed out from a bad reaction to a medication so that i could phone for help!

    She comforts me after bad dreams, she lets me know when odd noises in the house are nothing to worry about. (“That crash was just the other cat. Go back to sleep.”)

    among so many other small things.
    Gee maybe I should teach her to drive, but I KNOW she’d swerve like mad to hit the squirrels…

  56. Oooh, Google Cuddles, the other guide miniature horse. He and his dad live up here in Maine, but as part of his graduation, before he could take Cuddles home, the two of them had to navigate Manhatten, alone. Subways, cabs, busses, you name it, Cuddles could handle it all.

    Of course, Cuddles has teeny tiny custom made Reeboks that he wears in malls and stuff so he doesn’t slip. His dad says he wishes he had had Cuddles when he was single. Apparently a mini horse in Reeboks is the most powerful chick magnet on the planet…

  57. wannadance says:

    jennifer, no worries. i am about as ‘unusual’ as you can get and i wasn’t offended. actually, one thing about disability is that it really helps to be silly rather than proper.

    man, i love me some animules. jasmine brings me stuffed mice all the time, oh, i tellya, peeps, it’s a wonderful kinda life!

  58. I read about the Pony in the links, how cute! It’s cool that they are training other animals to help people like this. I’ll read the parrot thing next 🙂

  59. kibblenibble says:

    Wow…we are *all* so lucky to share our lives with our animal companions! And to have these great conversations with our CO peeps. My heart is touched…and warmed. Thank you.

  60. berthaservant says:

    I’ve thought about things a little differently since a few years ago when I was at a seminar on disability studies in academia and the performing arts. One of the speakers said “I am not ‘disabled.’ The rest of you are just ‘temporarily abled.'”

  61. my fav part of the NYT article… her driver’s license say she is not permitted to drive without a her monkey! Can you imagine the bafoons at the DMV taking the picture and putting down that comment! LOL

    I love it!

  62. This is where the crip sense of humor really comes in handy.

    Wannadance-I lost my ability to sing- doesn’t sound like a huge deal, but singing was my life. It mourn it to this day. However, when I had the Pneumonia, and breathing itself was difficult, I had a totally new perspective on what I still have. No Pollyanna, just sayin…

    Hugs and snorgles and neck nibbles and sweet pokes in the belly to all of our differently able and temporarily able friends. It just aggravates me when the TV show people doing harm to themselves and putting themselves in physically-hurtful situation-the channel gets turned at once- please, everyone, cherish your bodies and the things they can do for you and your soul! Everyone’s body is beautiful-no matter what.

  63. wannadance says:

    katrina, losing something you love IS a huge deal, esp. if it is a way to add beauty to the world, like singing. shore do understand that.

    meanwhile, peeps, your body may not be a temple; it may be a landfill, like mine, but appreciate it. it might take a notion one day to get sick.
    same with our fuzzy/scaly/furry babies. adore them, woo, i do.

  64. Breaking news about the service animal story posted about here: I just got some leaked government documents about the new regulations. Turns out, they’ve made them even more restrictive than they were originally — they will now ban all animals except dogs. I’ve posted info about it here, and links to various ways you can speak out against the ban if you’re like: