At last, there is finally some good news for the dogs of Chicago, who have spent much of this spring in quarantine, far from their beloved dog parks and day cares and even the not-so-beloved groomers, because of the terrible and deadly canine flu that has swept the city:

The epidemic is almost over. Rejoice, oh dogs! Bark and chase your tails in celebration! Soon you will be able to sniff each other’s butts again without causing panic in your humans!

Dr. Julia Georgesen, a vet at Blum Animal Hospital in Lakeview, says that the number of new cases has slowed down dramatically. At the height of the epidemic, Blum was seeing ten or more sick animals a day. Now it’s down to two or three a week.

But Georgesen still advises pet owners to exercise caution. “[The virus] is still in the environment,” she says. “It’s still out there. Use your common sense.”

She recommends that before returning the dogs to the groomer or day care, humans should call to make sure there haven’t been any recent cases of the flu on the premises. She also suggests that everyone should wait a few more weeks, until at the least the beginning of June, before returning to the dog parks and beaches, which are not as closely monitored. But it’s OK to walk dogs “within reason.”

Georgesen applauds local pet owners for taking the epidemic seriously. “Conscientious dog owners played a big part in it leaving the area,” she says.

Unfortunately, canines who were planning to attend Dog Day at U.S. Cellular Field this Monday will have to learn an important lesson in Chicago baseball fandom: wait till next year.