One of the many reasons we all love our neighborhood is its diversity. A stroll through its blocks and boulevards will lead to encounters with people of all ages—and lots of four, six and eight-legged creatures as well.
Dogs pull their owners down the sidewalk or socialize with other doggos while cats look on from their window perches. The occasional squirrel or rogue pigeon scampers by. Rats—yes, rats—dwell somewhere close at hand that we’d all prefer not to visualize.
But these aren’t the only animals hanging around the block. Most Loganites know about the Logan Square pig who frequents local art fests and one even went missing a couple of months ago. Block Club Chicago reported July 31 that a lost turtle was reunited with its family thanks to social media.
We asked Logan Square residents to tell us about their not-so-typical pets and we were not disappointed by the responses. Meet the diverse characters that encompass “pets” in our community.
JubJub the Iguana
If you’ve ever walked by [Blnk] Haus Gallery (3206 W. Armitage Ave.), you may have noticed an iguana staring at you from the other side of the large front window.
JubJub—aptly named after the iguana from “The Simpsons”—is a local celebrity, who spends most of his time sitting on a stage that overlooks the outside street.
“Everyone walking by has their own name for him,” said Rachel Lechocki and Andrew Rehs. They are the co-founders of [Blnk] Haus–a community space and art gallery where JubJub resides. His owner is Matt Andelman of Idealty Real Estate, who rents the space to Lechocki and Rehs.
“Having him in the front window is how Matt met his wife and the mother of his child,” they said of JubJub.
JubJub is 15 years old and has a big personality to match his old age. He allows [Blnk] Haus visitors to pet and pat his scaly skin.
Though he can remain statuesque for long periods of time, he insists on using the building’s actual bathroom when nature calls him, leading him to stealthily crawl the length of the studio on his four legs.
“He definitely rules the space more than anyone else,” Lechocki said.
JubJub eats a diet of iceberg lettuce, kale, avocados and bananas, which are as irresistible to him as chocolate is to humans. And most of his produce comes from Whole Foods, making him better fed than most humans.
Feeding iguanas a vegetarian diet keeps them docile, Rehs and Lechocki said. They’ve brought their dogs to the studio before and were surprised to discover that the two species didn’t interact with—or even seem to notice—one other.
Although he usually shows no interest in going outside, JubJub has escaped a few times—once for a three week period. Each time he has returned from his mysterious vacation on his own accord.
“He’s just a free spirit,” Rehs said.
Pequod the Fox
Pequod was named for Chicago’s famous deep dish pizza restaurant—and that’s the only thing about him that resembles a native to the city.
His owner, Reesie Jinx Stanford, lived in Logan Square when she first got Pequod as a six-week-old pup. He’s now two years old, though he still weighs just three pounds.
He is a fennec fox who has learned to live in an urban jungle, despite still displaying wild behaviors. For instance, when shedding every September and October, he becomes very moody because, if he were still living in the deserts he’s native to, he would be kicked out of the den and forced to live on his own during this time of year, said his owner.
“City rats are as big as he is,” Stanford laughed. She has since moved to Irving Park and transports Pequod around to hair salons and restaurant patios in a pet carrier.
Beyond these trips, Pequod is an indoor pet and he’s litter box trained. He loves belly scratches, making forts out of pillows, and—though he’s nocturnal—he jumps in his crate when he knows it’s his bedtime.
He eats a raw diet, including (but not limited to) mealworms, crickets, fresh vegetables, frozen mice and raw cat food.
“People always ask me if he’s like a dog or cat,” Stanford said. Her response is “neither”—he’s like a fox.
Although her experience with Pequod has been overwhelmingly positive, Stanford is careful not to encourage everyone she knows to go get a pet fox. She stressed that foxes are wild animals with wild urges and they can be tricky to care for.
Pequod, though adorable, can also be very skittish. He makes various loud noises depending on his mood, including one when he’s lonely. Stanford describes it as “a pterodactyl falling out of the sky.”
She researched fennec foxes for two years before getting Pequod, despite having grown up on a farm with pets ranging from opossums to turkeys to chinchillas. She worked with fennec foxes in college and got Pequod from a breeder she knew in West Virginia. Fennec foxes are legal pets for Chicagoans because they’re not native to the area, Stanford explained.
Though Pequod’s wild nature can make him a difficult pet, it’s also a quality that Stanford loves about him.
“Even though we’re so evolved we still have that connection to the wilderness,” she said.
Follow Pequod on Instagram.
Roxanne and Lacie the Chickens
Roxie and Lacie are both the queens of their two-chicken coop. Their full names are Roxanne Sam McNuggets and Lacie Ella Sanders. (Hint: put those middle names together and you get “salmonella.”)
Their owners, Dane Caswell, a landscape architect, and Gary Dehne, a building engineer, bought them from Belmont Farm & Seed in May for $8 each. Caswell had been wanting chickens for a while and managed to catch Dehne on the right day to bring it up, Caswell said.
At the time of the interview, Roxie and Lacie had not started laying eggs yet—though they likely would very soon, based on a new noise they were making which Dehne interpreted as “get this out of me.”
Once they begin, the chickens will each lay one egg per day for their first year. Dehne is a frequent baker and will make use of the eggs, which don’t need to be refrigerated.
They live in a large backyard coop that Dehne built and will move to a potting shed once winter hits. He wants to upgrade their coop by building a large bird cage for them, complete with perches.
They also hope to walk the chickens in the harnesses they bought for them, but that is not too easy.
“It’s like flying a kite,” Caswell said because they don’t want to clip the chickens’ wings.
They allow the chickens literal “free range” of their backyard about once a week. Although their 8-year-old sheepdog, Birdie, plays nice with them, both Roxie and Lacie prefer to keep watch from the safety of their coop.
“They’re scared to death when they’re out of their cage,” Dehne said.
The chickens constantly beg for food so Caswell and Dehne refer to them as “pigs with wings.” They eat imitation crab meat, fresh grapes off the vine, hydrangeas, quinoa, spaghetti, white rice, dandelions, boiled egg shells and blueberries (but not strawberries).
Despite their begging, the female chickens are much quieter than a rooster would be. “[The neighbors] are like, ‘I didn’t even know you had chickens,’” Caswell said.
The two chickens’ color differences can be attributed to their different breeds. Roxie is a “Black Sex Link” which is a hybrid of the “Rhode Island Red” and “Barred Rock Hen” breeds and Lacie is a “Silver Laced Wyandotte.” They also have different personalities—Roxie allows people to pick her up more than Lacie does.
Caswell and Dehne have learned to care for their chickens by watching YouTube videos, a book from the Harold Washington Library, trial and error and former experience; both had chickens growing up. They would encourage others to buy chickens of their own, citing how easy they are to care for: they just need food, fresh water and shelter.
But you can’t get just one—chickens are flock animals and need at least one companion to share their throne, I mean, coop with.