He also was an escape artist.
On Tuesday, the monkey somehow escaped his cage and traveled into a fenced yard, where he died following an encounter with a Rottweiler.
The monkey, which weighed between 10 and 15 pounds and stood about 26 inches tall, had escaped twice before. Three times, someone damaged his 6 ½- foot tall by 12-foot wide wooden cage, which had bars around it and fencing.
Shortly before 1 p.m. Tuesday, Dale Ferson came home and noticed the monkey's cage was open and Dexter was missing. The padlock used to lock the cage door also was missing.
"We're having a hard time with his loss," Ferson said.
Ferson said Dexter came to their family when he was 17 weeks old, on Christmas Eve in 1989. The 59-year-old man said Dexter, who had been abused, was a gift for his wife.
At the time, the family was living in south Florida. They moved to Belleview in November 1995.
While he was with them, Ferson said, Dexter was part of the family and grew up with his five children and 10 grandchildren.
Ferson said the monkey loved finding a sharp object to put in the lock on his cage in an attempt to open it.
"It was a fun thing for him to do," Ferson said.
The same deputy who responded to Tuesday's incident noted in his report that two years ago he worked a similar call involving Dexter's escape, and it was determined then that the animal had gone through a hole at the back of the cage.
While investigating Tuesday, Dexter was seen not far away. Rushing to the area, Ferson, the deputy and several neighbors saw the monkey on top of a roof. Several attempts to lure him to the ground failed, and he ran off.
"He's hard to catch because he's so fast," Ferson said.
Ferson told the deputy that Dexter normally would return home at nightfall.
Roughly a half hour after everyone had left the scene, Ferson called the deputy to tell him that Dexter had been captured by a Rottweiler and was killed.
The dog was inside a 6-foot privacy fence.
Ferson said Dexter was cremated and his remains will be placed on top of the fireplace, next to his favorite stuffed animal, a monkey.
Story credit and photo here