It’s going to be a stretch, but let’s start here.
Puppies. Dogs. Grouchy couch potatoes. The furry little family members. Whatever age they are and whichever name we give them. They make us happy. They fix all of our problems and give us the courage to confront our colossal qualms.
Dogs help. They improve our emotional well-being and they keep the ground steady below our shaky legs. There’s a reason we train Goldens and Labs to be emotional support animals. Check out the research on it.
There’s also research on the mass mortality events of pufferfish in the Caribbean Ocean. Meet the Caribbean sharp-nosed pufferfish! A small pufferfish with one of the most potent neurotoxins in the animal kingdom, being almost one-thousand times more toxic to humans than cyanide. These small creatures; in response to stress, resource limitation, and disease can wash up on beaches throughout the Caribbean in the thousands. Dead.
And so begins the de-stretching of the story.
You’re on that beach with Captain Sniffer, unknowingly, after one of these mass-mortality events (maybe brought on by climate change, plastic pollution, a nearby oil spill, the possibilities are endless nowadays) and Captain Sniffer is doing a little too much sniffing. He eats a few, perhaps he eats twenty or thirty of these of pufferfish.
The seizures start.
Captain Sniffer is sniffing no more. He’s having a grand mal seizure. Your head is spinning, you feel as if you just skipped the prodromal phase yourself and are heading right into the aural and then ictal phase alongside Captain Sniffer. But wait. The ever astute and prepared veterinarian that you are remembered the activated charcoal and midazolam you just so happened to have in your adventure bag.
Phew. Even on an exotic beach in the Caribbean, without any fancy monitoring or equipment, you fixed him. Captain Sniffer is safe to sniff another day. Your travel buddy is safe, and your mental health preserved.
This story tells us a lot. It tells us that really everything is connected. I mean c’mon – an oil spill (or some other environmental stressor) leading to thousands of toxic pufferfish dying, washing up on the beach, being consumed by an emotional support dog who then seizes and almost dies from fatal neurotoxicity, sending his owner into a state of depression and emotional turmoil from losing their best friend?
This is a very real situation. It happened, and it reminds us that, regardless of our focus of study or career, we should get comfortable with situations like this because as time moves forward the interconnections between seemingly disconnected things will only get closer and messier and more stressful and more regular. We all really need to work together to better understand the many problems that presently plague the planet. It’s 2020. We have a lot to think about. Our society, and the planet, is fragile.