Thoughts from the President During a Pandemic

October 17, 2020 - The Benefits of Pets

Dear Danforth Center Community,

During a recent Zoom meeting, as someone’s canine companion was barking in the background, I was asked, “Jim, when are you getting a dog?” We do not have a dog. We do not have a cat. Teri and I are pet-less empty nesters living an existence without boarding of animals, feeding schedules, visits to the vet, or picking up what dogs drop on grassy areas during their daily walk. The last pets we had were two hamsters, hosted sequentially around 15 years ago and both named Cappuccino. I have nothing against your pets; to the contrary, they are delightful and fun when I see them on camera or meet them in person. We have even gone to Mauhaus, the cat cafe in Maplewood with the lab – twice!

I enjoy meeting your pets and have become friendly, or at least comfortably acquainted, with dogs Shula (Hal Davies), Mr. Wiggles (Chris Topp), Lily (Myia Elliott) and Lexi (Anna Dibble), and cats Ferus (Kerri Gilbert/Noah Fahlgren), Bentley and Lexi (Dan Lin), and Howie (Myia Elliott). The name Ferus in Latin means “fierce.” According to Ferus’ mom, he was named during the height of popularity of America’s Top Model. By my calculation, Lexi is the most common pet name I’ve encountered within the Danforth Center community. Anna tried changing Lexi’s name when she was adopted at age 3, but the golden doodle had none of that. Some of your pets, like Shula, know my voice from Zoom meetings and are confused when they encounter me in person.

One of the most unusual pets in our community is a green axolotl named Maverick (Myia Elliott). Axolotls are amphibious salamanders with external, showy gills and lungs. Now, I admit, I had never heard of an axolotl before learning from Myia. My first question was, “Are we missing some vowels?” No, we are not. Maverick dines on blood worms and live minnows, and he smiles all the time. My second question was, “Where do you get an axolotl?” Of course, you get them at the axolotl store. Maverick came from Ivy’s Axolotls, which has over 41,300 followers on Instagram. The axolotl world is enthusiastic, and much bigger than I imagined.

Pets have been shown to confer psychological, emotional and physical benefits upon their human companions. These benefits are outsized during the coronavirus pandemic with meaningful human contact being less frequent. I see the benefits regularly during online meetings. When talking about or handling your pets, you always light up, tell a story and show a smile. Come to think of it, so do I, and for that I am thankful.

Jim Carrington, President

Previous Weekly Messages from Jim Carrington

Danforth Center Response Plan

The Danforth Plant Science Center recognizes the potential of exposure to Coronavirus (COVID-19) in our building and the impact it could have on our people and the Center. Accordingly, we have a plan in place in the event of a positive test for COVID-19 of an individual who was present in our Building(s).

Danforth Center Updates

During this unique moment in history, the first priority of the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center is the health and safety of our Center community, our families, and those who work with us.