The monkey was not a baby monkey. "It had very little fur," she recalled. "It had scabs all over most of its body. The box was covered in diarrhea, and so was the monkey."

It blinked at her, its eyes adjusting to the sudden brightness. Then it leaped out of the box. Janet managed to back out of the cage and close the monkey in.

She knew then that she was being scammed. Later, she asked around and figured out the details: "Obviously, what this woman was doing was selling the same monkey again and again and again," she said.

The breeder, Janet believes, would promise customers an adorable baby monkey, then deliver a traumatized, sickly, belligerent adult monkey. When the customer decided that maybe monkeys were not for them, the breeder would let them return the animal — for a partial refund.

"I don't know how many times this had gone on in the poor animal's life," Janet said.

One thing was clear: Janet could not allow it to go on.

"I did not want this monkey. This was not what I expected or paid for," she said. "But I could not allow this woman to take the monkey back with her. I couldn't allow her to continue to harm this animal.

"I paid her the money and told her to get out of my house."


MONKEY ON HER BACK

So now Janet was stuck with the monkey. When she tried to touch it, it would cower in the corner of the cage. It screamed whenever anyone came near it. It continued to have diarrhea.

Janet called a vet who specialized in exotic animals. That's when she found out that it was illegal to own a monkey in Massachusetts.

This put Janet in a bind. If she tried to offload the monkey to a legitimate primate center, it might tip off the authorities, and the state might seize the monkey.

"I didn't know how much trouble I would get in, or what would happen to the monkey next," she said. It just didn't seem like a good option for either of them. "I was committed to keeping the monkey, to give it some stability."

And the monkey did get better. After a month or two, the monkey's scabs started to heal, its hair started to grow in, and its diarrhea went away. It would let Janet put a hand in the cage and pet it. If she sat quietly in one side of the cage, it would eventually come over and climb in her lap.

"I thought I was giving the monkey the best life it had had so far," she said. "We did kind of build a relationship; it just was a long time in coming."

There was one issue, though.

"The monkey was very, very comfortable with my husband," she said.

When he passed by the cage, the monkey would rub against the bars and scream. When it went into estrus, it got worse. That monkey wanted him bad. It saw Janet as a rival and would try to bite her if she came near.

"At those certain times," she said, "women are very jealous of each other."

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