What happens when dogs and cats are no longer cutting it anymore? Thankfully, this veteran with PTSD saved a squirrel monkey – and got a new lease of life as a result.
A moment in time
Meet Luke! This soldier was serving in the Armed Forces; signed up with the 227th Infantry, the Wolfhounds, who were based in Hawaii.
However, it was getting deployed to Iraq in 2008 that was about to change Luke’s life forever. Luke had been there for a few months when in August 2009, the soldier hit a daisy-chain IUD.
This is a type of weapon that is made from a lot of bombs all tied together. Sadly, Luke found himself caught up in the middle of it all as he was involved in the explosion – moment that was about to mark a change.
Left with the effects
The result of the explosion left Luke with a piece of rebar steel embedded in his skull after it blew through his helmet. That was only the beginning.
The explosion also shattered Luke’s hips, left the soldier with shrapnel in his fingers, and even caused him to lose some of his teeth.
He was left in a dangerous way, and there was no choice for Luke to return home. The extent of Luke’s injuries have left him with chronic pain syndrome – a condition that means he still feels pain even though his injuries have healed – as well as combat post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
A new idea
Adjusting to life at home was tough for Luke. That was until one of his friends took him to monkey sanctuary where Luke met and fell for oLLie.
The baby squirrel monkey was in a lot of distress and needed plenty of care. However, it was tough to find anyone who could care for all of his needs.
That was until Luke’s friend suggested that he think about taking oLLie on as his new friend. It planted a seed; one that was about to bring a whole new light to this retired combat soldier’s life after battling the dark on his own for so long.
Too many barriers
However, there was an issue. Luke was worried about what it would take to look after the squirrel monkey, especially as oLLie needed a lot of extra care and he had never kept a squirrel monkey before.
There were permits to get and arrangements to make before oLLie could be a part of their home.
Plus, Luke had two young children at home. Surely there was no way that a monkey could fit into their lifestyle? It seemed as though everything was against them. That was until the more that Luke thought about welcoming oLLie into his home, the more he realized that it was a good idea.
Plenty to learn
It looked as though everything fell into place, and before he knew what was happening, Luke found himself back at the monkey sanctuary collecting oLLie to take home.
He was worried, but nothing would stop this veteran from giving oLLie the best life he could.
Luke compared welcoming the new addition to the home to like when someone brings home a baby. He says that you can read all the books and think you know everything, but nothing ever prepares you for what it will really be like with a newborn. oLLie was about to give Luke some help to learn about his new friend.
A fragile package
Many people warned Luke that the bigger the primate, the harder they work to take care of.
However, Luke soon learned that couldn’t have been further from the truth. oLLie’s bones are fragile, and he was just nine months old when he bought him back to the house.
The squirrel monkey wouldn’t be fully grown until he was around two-and-a-half years old, meaning there was still plenty of growing to do. Plus, he still had a lot of growing to do. Luke didn’t just need to learn how to look after a squirrel monkey, he needed to adjust to one that was rapidly developing, too.
Luke had spent many weeks trying to combat the injuries and health issues he had been left with thanks to his time in the army.
Little did he know, but one of those conditions was about to help him grow even closer to oLLie than Luke ever imagined. It turned out the veteran had also been diagnosed with insomnia.
Thankfully, this was a bonus for the new pair. oLLie needed attention all around the clock. Luke’s scattered sleeping pattern made him the perfect candidate to help care for his new furry friend. This wasn’t the only time oLLie helped to find strengths within his new friend.
Reading the room
The veteran soon realized that oLLie was learning how to read his energy. Whenever Luke was feeling upset or bothered, oLLie was there by his side.
On the other hand, when Luke was ready to face the day, oLLie was there bouncing around the room, ready to play.
As if that wasn’t enough, Luke started to feel as though oLLie knew when his new human pal was in pain as it looked like the squirrel monkey wanted to try and help. This was the perfect chance for Luke to grow more confident in his new life as a retired veteran.
A growing confidence
Before he encountered the incident in the army, Luke says that he was a social butterfly who loved heading out and spending time with his friends.
That all changed when he returned home. He wanted to spend his time inside and avoided talking with anyone if he could.
Thankfully, oLLie found a way to help his new human in return for Luke’s loving care that he had shown toward the squirrel monkey. Having a pet helped to give Luke the confidence he needed to get out of the house and start meeting new people again. This was only the beginning.
Building a friendship
There have been plenty of challenges that Luke has had to face as he learns how to raise oLLie. One of the first on the list was the fact the squirrel monkey was so timid when he arrived at his new friend’s house.
The veteran knew that the size of oLLie’s eyes and ears meant that he had to try and process everything all at once.
This meant that he was always on alert and was wary of trusting anyone. Thankfully, it didn’t take long for oLLie to realize that he had a friend for life. Now, Luke and oLLie have a relationship that looks as though it will last a lifetime.
Making some room
Another aspect of raising oLLie that Luke needed to consider was how he was going to keep his new pal safe and his life full of enrichment.
The veteran soon invested in three separate enclosures for oLLie. One of the cages is used when Luke needs oLLie to focus on learning, meaning it is a lot smaller than many others.
The squirrel monkey also has a travel case that Luke uses whenever the pair need to go out and about as well as his own personal playroom. Here, oLLie can enjoy a room filled floor to ceiling with toys as well as spending many hours of the day with his new friend.
Lots of playtime
One of oLLie’s new favorite games to play is with Luke and the blanket. The squirrel monkey often tries to nibble at Luke’s fingers, and the veteran says that he is rarely aggressive.
However, that all changes when the blanket comes out. All of a sudden…
The squirrel monkey loves to jump into the blanket and bite through the material. It might not be as it seems. Luke says that he feels as though oLLie knows that it doesn’t hurt as much. Plus, he wants to try and recreate a natural environment for oLLie that would typically include playing with his siblings.
Special kind of love
Luke has learned how to show oLLie affection in ways that he understands, and it looks as though the squirrel monkey and his new human have developed a language all on their own.
Luke admits that oLLie is usually full of energy.
In fact, he usually only sleeps for around 6 hours a day with a few naps in between. So how does oLLie show Luke affection? The veteran says this is by jumping onto him and climbing up and down his clothes. Then, when he is finally tired, oLLie will curl up and fall asleep on Luke’s lap or chest.
A worrying moment
It turns out that oLLie isn’t always jumping around and having a good time. Luke created a jungle gym from cat trees, ropes, and branches to give oLLie plenty of places to climb and hide throughout the day.
Sadly, the squirrel monkey misjudged a jump and missed the ledge.
He went toppling down and bumped his head before running back to the top of the cat tree. Luke says that he was beside himself with worry as nothing like this had ever happened before. Although oLLie was angry for two days, the squirrel monkey thankfully forgave his friend and came back around.
Sharing their story
As well as feeling like he is getting back to his old self, Luke has also had the confidence to have more of an online presence than ever, thanks to having oLLie by his side.
The veteran decided to deactivate all of his social media accounts when he returned from the army.
Now, he runs a handful of pages on behalf of oLLie so he can share the pair’s adventures with the rest of the world. Luke films plenty of videos as he documents their experiences as well as running a blog and social media pages. Here, people around the world have watched them grow together.
In many of the videos, people often wonder why oLLie is making so many noises. Luke wants to assure people that it is part of his normal behavior, and there is nothing to worry about.
In the wild, it’s the job of the eldest male squirrel monkey to keep watch over the rest of the group and warn them about any dangers.
They do this by making loud, squeaking noises. oLLie also makes little clicks when he is happy. To many, it can sound as though oLLie is scared a lot of the time, but Luke has learned what all of his noises mean.
Introducing the world
A typical afternoon for oLLie and Luke involves spending a while outside trying to get used to the outside. However, this can take a lot of patience as oLLie gets scared quite easily.
He is used to birds around him meaning there is danger on the horizon, but Luke is there to help keep him safe.
There’s also something else that oLLie needs to get used to: water. Luke tried to introduce his squirrel monkey to water every day to help make bathtime a little easier. This can also be a great chance for Luke to oLLie explore the house and get used to the world around him.
Keeping things normal
The best bit? It turns out the rest of the afternoon is a chance to kick back and relax for oLLie and Luke. The squirrel monkey gets to play with a toy and race around his playroom while off the leash.
Luke takes the time to upload any videos for the day as well as reply to comments left by fans from all around the world.
Luke knows that oLLie needs to try and lead a normal life, even though he is living with a human family. This involves plenty of enrichment and playing with him as though they are part of a group in the wild.
Overcoming the noise
There are many aspects to raising a baby squirrel monkey that Luke never considered until he had oLLie by his side.
Thankfully, the pair have been able to grow and learn alongside one another. One of the handfuls of things that Luke has learned upsets his friend is loud noises.
Luke could only talk quietly for many weeks until his monkey learned to accept his voice. Sadly, loud cars or loud noises can still be enough to upset him, but Luke works hard to introduce oLLie to as many different things as he can while he is still only a youngster.
A new addition
Many people want to know if Luke has any plans to get another squirrel monkey. Sadly, it seems as though life has other plans for oLLie at the moment.
The veteran recently confessed there was a leak in his home that got into the electrics.
The combination started a small fire that tore through the middle of many walls. As if that wasn’t enough, it also meant that Luke’s entire house needed rewiring before it was safe. Thankfully, everything is now fixed, and Luke can spend more time focusing on his friend rather than trying to fix his family home.
Being without another monkey means that Luke has found plenty of ways to make sure that he gets to see other animals.
One of his favorite trips is to the local pet store. Here, oLLie gets to see all kinds of animals from fish to parakeets.
However, this squirrel monkey still knows that some animals could be a threat. He is sure to alert Luke – and everyone else in the area – that there could be a danger. This doesn’t stop at animals. It seems as though oLLie is still a little wary of strangers and will often try to warn Luke about someone coming too close.
Years of experience
There is another friend that oLLie has made over the years. Thankfully, Luke is friends with another monkey owner named Pete, who owns two monkeys, Boo and Happy.
Boo has been a part of Pete’s life since he was just six weeks old, and now the back-capped capuchin is nine years old.
Over the years, Pete admits that he had built an incredible bond with his unusual friend. They often nap with one another as Boo has his favorite napping spot. Thankfully, all of his years of experience mean that Pete is the perfect person to help the veteran and oLLie.
The perfect match
It appears as though Pete is no stranger to monkeys trying to cause havoc in his home. He also posts regular videos of their antics and claims that Boo is the most famous monkey in the world.
However, Happy is quickly catching up to his fame as he now has a huge online following all on his own.
The pair regularly star in videos alongside one another as well as featuring in clips all on their own. Happy is still a baby, for now, so he still has a lot to learn, but being a youngster means they make a great playmate for oLLie.
A fellow friend
oLLie regularly gets the chance to head to Happy’s house and playroom to enjoy brand new toys as well as a fellow monkey to play with.
However, it looks as though oLLie wants to spend more time jumping around and playing with the toys while Happy prefers to hang out with his human friends and keep chilled.
It turns out there could be a good reason. Although they are both monkeys, Luke admits that they don’t speak the same language. This means that oLLie sometimes gets scared by Happy’s size and runs away as they use body language to communicate instead.
Sharing their passion
Pete admits that he loves to share his monkeys with the world as he hopes to bring a smile to people’s faces one video at a time.
It can also be a great way to help educate the world about different monkeys as well as giving people a chance to see an animal that many of us would never get to see.
However, for Luke, it’s a very different story. Introducing oLLie to the world was more than just sharing videos. It was a chance for this veteran to get some of his life back after going through such an experience in the armed forces.
Thinking to the future
Believe it or not, but it’s not always sunshine for Luke. He is often asked about how he handles oLLie as he starts to misbehave as well as what will happen as his squirrel monkey continues to grow.
Luke has learned that many monkeys can be naturally greedy creatures.
This means he has to be careful to make sure that he doesn’t let him get away with too much. Instead, Luke has opted to use a timeout system where he goes into timeout for five minutes as soon as he misbehaves. Thankfully, Luke feels as though it’s working so far.
Expanding his world
Although Luke is happy to care for oLLie for the time being, he worries that he might need another monkey around as a friend as he continues to grow.
Now that his house has been repaired, it looks as though Luke’s next goal is thinking about welcoming a new addition to the family.
Plus, Luke wants to continue oLLie’s socialization in the hopes that it won’t be long before he is used to heading out into the public and exploring the rest of the world. It’ll all about taking baby steps to make sure that oLLie is happy and comfortable every step of the way.
Just as Luke is thankful to oLLie for helping him branch out and experience what the rest of the world has to offer, it seems as though this squirrel monkey is just as happy to have a family by his side.
He was once in need of specialist care, but Luke has been able to nurse him back to full health in no time.
The best bit? oLLie’s new fans love to give back, too. They often send new enrichment or toys to the squirrel monkey as well as donations to make sure that he gets to live the best life he can in his new home.