Mission accomplished! By Karin Brulliard

Hello, and happy weekend.

One of my resolutions for 2018 was to write more about raccoons — really, it was! Unlike some people, I’m a raccoon fan, but I didn’t write about them at all in 2017.

Well: Mission accomplished. We are barely halfway through the year, and I’ve written about raccoons that crash through ceilings, a stoned raccoon and — last but the opposite of least — a raccoon that can also lay claim to the phrase “mission accomplished.” I’m talking, of course, about the Minnesota raccoon that snatched the Internet away from the Trump-Kim meeting by scaling a 25-story skyscraper. (Did you see the perfect video set to the “Mission Accomplished” theme? Watch here.)

I’ve been doing this gig long enough to confidently predict that #MPRraccoon will feature on those Top 10 memorable animals lists for a while. Heck, the National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum — a place that actually exists, in Wisconsin — is already offering a product it calls the St. Paul Raccoon bobblehead. (Please note: This is not a product endorsement.)  I just hope she’s enjoying her new pastoral digs, oblivious to her fame.

Also this week, more research came out suggesting that PTSD service dogs, which I wrote about this spring, can help veterans with post-traumatic stress. The study looked at levels of cortisol, a “stress hormone,” in the saliva of vets with service dogs and without. It found those with the dogs had similar cortisol profiles to healthy adults without PTSD.

It’s the first study to use a physiological marker to gauge the effects of these canines. But what’s also admirable about the study is the lead author’s caution, because too often the results of studies about the human health benefits of animals are overhyped. This “exciting initial data,” Purdue University assistant professor Maggie O’Haire said, “did not establish a direct correlation, on an individual level, between cortisol levels and levels of PTSD symptoms, and further study is needed. It is important to keep in mind that service dogs do not appear to be a cure for PTSD.”