Editor’s Letter: Boosting Heart Health — With Our Pets

This issue is dedicated to health, love and then naturally our furry, feathered or scaly friends we call pets. Reading through the various articles for this issue, I immediately thought of an essay I wrote years ago for an anthology called Band of Wives, published by Christine Bronstein and edited by Mickey Nelson (now a popular writing coach in Ross) about the health benefits of BFFs. The point of my essay was based on a handful of studies citing the health benefits of friendships. If you think about it, one of the top reasons people seek therapy is due to romantic relationship woes. However, science shows that people who have friends and close confidants are more satisfied with their lives, are less likely to suffer from depression and they are also less likely to die from all causes, including heart problems and a range of chronic diseases. So let’s focus on friends!

And then there’s the research on how pets decrease risk of dementia, along with so many positive benefits. There is no better example of friends and furry companions extending life and health than Bill W. Jones, who at 86 took a class on writing a memoir. Ten years later he published his book on being the first man to legally adopt a child in the U.S. I feel honored to have developed a friendship with Bill and his dog Coco over the past year. Coco is Bill’s constant companion whether he is driving around in his new car (yes, at 95 he bought a new electric car and knows how to use all the gadgets), or dining at Bayside Cafe. After one of his book readings, I was invited to his good friends (Frank’s and Brian’s) home in Gerstle Park to celebrate. Under the warm summer Sam Rafael evening on their idyllic front porch we laughed, drank wine and congratulated Bill on his wonderful reading. He had a slideshow with photos of his beautiful son Aaron as a boy, which he showed to a packed room ignoring a few minor technical difficulties. I told him I even saw Elaine Petrocelli, owner of Book Passage, and book reading veteran, shed a tear at his reading during one particularly sweet passage.

Also in this issue, Matt Villano takes on the mind-numbing topic of health data, with Marin County (and the Bay Area) at the epicenter of this burgeoning field. I was inspired to delve further into this topic when I attended a JMP conference last year with my boyfriend. A conference full of engineers in Palm Desert means several things — there is no line at the bar for us neurotypicals, and I had the chance to listen to jaw-dropping stories of how statistics and data are shaping our world. For instance, I heard Julia O’Neill of Moderna discuss how she (and her team, and the rest of her science community) were able to come up with the Covid vaccine so quickly because of the huge amounts of existing statistical analysis. Matt Vilano took the topic and ran with it. Mind-numbing isn’t bad! Groundbreaking discoveries often emerge from the meticulous and seemingly mundane work of dedicated people, and thanks to this it’s a good time to be alive, folks.

Cheers to health, love and happiness! 

Mimi Towle 

Have a look at our February issue here: