Notes for April 1, 2015

Mastiff Malady, Dachshund Disease: Dog Flu Strikes Chicago
There’s been an outbreak of canine influenza among dogs in the Chicago area, and it’s clear that the Second City’s pups are in peril; Dr. Natalie Marks, a veterinarian at Blum Animal Hospital, has reported seeing between five and fifteen cases a day recently, and a few dogs have died. Dog flu isn’t usually fatal, but it’s undoubtedly serious: symptoms include high fever and pneumonia. The disease is highly contagious to other dogs, with almost all exposed dogs becoming infected, though some are carriers and show no symptoms; humans can’t get sick but can help spread the illness. It’s worth asking your vet about getting the vaccine, but keep in mind that it takes some time to fully protect a dog, and, like the human flu vaccine, it cannot be given to those who are already ill. If there were ever a time to resist Fido’s imploring eyes as he begs to go to the dog park, this is it.

A Runoff Update
The last of the snow has melted, and Rahm’s hard-working paid campaigners are running up and down South Side boulevards sticking “I’m With Rahm” signs into freshly thawed ground. The weather may be growing milder, but you couldn’t say the same about the mayoral runoff, which has taken some unexpected turns in the last week. Garcia took on an offensive stance during the second mayoral debate, informing Rahm that he is “not the king of the city.” Rahm was met with jeers at a NAACP event, and outrage when he tried to pull out of an open forum at Chicago State University. But two days ago, a poll by Ogden and Fry put Rahm a solid thirteen points ahead of Garcia, and the next day Rahm received an unlikely blessing from Alderman Fioretti. Biggest takeaway from this week’s runoff coverage? Rahm on reporters– “I hate you all equally.”

All Fat, No Meat
While the April 7 mayoral runoff election is undoubtedly important for the future of the city, arguably just as important for the city’s future is the fact that April is now officially Bacon Month in Chicago. This decree comes courtesy of the city government (which, surprisingly, has nothing better to do), in partnership with Baconfest Chicago (which, unsurprisingly, has nothing better to do). Events will feature bacon tastings, bacon cocktail tastings, bacon cooking classes, bacon painting classes, and, yes really, a series of Kevin Bacon movie nights. If any of this tickles your fancy, see baconfestchicago.com for more information. If you find this celebration frivolous and unnecessary, know you’re not alone.

Where in the World is Lona Lane?
Lona Lane, alderman of the 18th ward, is gone. Was she ever here? Unclear. What is known is that, rather than choose to attend such awkward and uncommon formalities as “electoral debates” or “public forums,” the alderman has instead taken the private route, something that might well lead to news headlines like such completely serious and non-speculative articles as “Is Vladimir Putin Dead?” earlier this month. Of course, while comparisons between Lane and Putin are somewhat premature, one can’t help but notice the two share a great amount of dedication to mystique, power, and complete inaccessibility to the public. And why not? If the strategy has worked so well for Putin, there’s no way for Lane to lose the upcoming runoff.

Animals of Chicago
Cook County isn’t just home to Bulls, Bears, Cubs, and whatever kind of animal Southpaw is: an abundance of wildlife lives in nature preserves around the area and in places covered more by concrete than by grass. Now that it is finally spring here in Chicago, nature continues its slow reclamation of the city as frogs splash into thawed ponds, coyote pups are born, and migratory birds continue their journey south. Six different species of frogs and toads live in the area, hopping around wherever there is fresh, unpolluted water. These lovable amphibians are crucial parts of the food chain, since they eat bugs and other small animals and are eaten by herons, raccoons, and other large animals. While spring is a time for rebirth, the herd of buffalo slated to be introduced to Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie near Joliet won’t be around until October. Like the frogs in Cook County, the buffalo are also a crucial part of the ecosystem, as their grazing makes room for native bird habitats. While most people would be less used to seeing buffalo around the region than they would be to seeing frogs, both are native to the region. As farming increased in the region, the prairie disappeared, and the bison along with it; but re-introduction and land restoration projects like the ones going on at Midewin provide man-made solutions to this man-made problem.

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