Tuesday, February 5, 2013

What Pigs Can Teach Us

OK, I know the title sounds a bit silly, and this post might seem a bit tongue-in-cheek, but there is some merit to it. So stay with me. I'm going to tell you about my adventure in pig ownership.

Back in October, we were at Flea Land- the local flea market. This place is cool. You can buy just about everything: clothes, cast iron cookware, pictures, car parts, guns, jams and jellies, depression era glass, dogs, cats, and even livestock.

Something possessed me that day. My dear hubby will dispute if I was even in my right mind. But as we were leaving, I saw some kids with piglets. Oh, they were sssssssooooooo cute! (The pigs, not the kids) Did I know a darn thing about pigs? Nope! But I wanted one. Mind you, I'm not an impulse buyer. I tend to research, weigh various products, and then make as sound of a decision as I can based on the facts. Not that day. I saw this cute little piggy and had to have him.

Against much protesting from my hubby, I whipped out $30 and bought my little Vietnamese Potbelly piglet. He was so small I could slide him into the big front pocket of a hoodie. We still had some shopping in town to do, so I had to be creative with the little guy. I hadn't thought of a name for him, and when we went to Tractor Supply, I brought him in. One of the girls there fell in love with him, so I asked her what should I call him? She gave him some cuddles and fussed over him, then pronounced him Sherman. I was cool with that name. So Sherman came home.

The first few weeks, he slept a lot. His home is the guest bathroom. He has a cozy cat bed, litter box, and plenty of space to run around. Life is good for the little porker. I soon realized having a piglet was like having a child. Pigs are very intelligent- far too smart for their less-than-attractive bodies. Sherman soon figured out how to push my buttons. If he wanted something and I could not immediately give it to him, he broke into a raucous outpouring of evil sounds. Hence he was christened the Demon Pig. And if he was bored, he started destroying things. Not cool. My vanity in that bathroom has some serious chew marks.

I bought a pig book off Amazon and read it immediately on arrival. I didn't realize what I'd gotten myself into. Yes, pigs are a lot of work. Sherman has his redeeming qualities- he's got a good sense of humor and a work ethic that would impress most bosses. I had to teach him tricks! I needed to get that 3rd grade mind of his engaged in something to keep him happy. And so far, that has worked, he hasn't destroyed anything lately.

Wellie, my Pitbull mix, was a good playmate. As Sherman has grown up, they aren't such good friends anymore, but in the beginning, they were a great source of amusement. There were times I got very little writing done in favor of watching them play. Now Sherman is over 40 pounds and thinks he's the king of the house. The dogs aren't taking kindly to that. We have occasional scuffles when he pushes his limits with the dogs. And he can be darned pig-headed when he doesn't want to do something.

So what can this pleasantly plump porker teach us? Well, he can teach you about determination. If he wants something, he won't give up until he either has it, or has exhausted himself trying. He uses his brain all the time, and it amazes me how he learns so fast. I can teach him a new trick every 3-4 days, and he remembers every trick I've taught him. Most of us humans don't have memory recall like that! Despite pigs having poor eyesight, this guy won't miss a morsel of dropped food. And just like a human child, he needs love, belly scratches, and playtime. 

There have been a few times I've regretted my impulse buy of a pig, but for the most part, he's brought me joy, and a definite sense of responsibility for an animal so intelligent. I look forward to teaching him more tricks. So far, he knows nearly a dozen individual tricks- more than all our dogs combined. 

Here are some things to consider before bringing home a pig:

1. Potbellies can get from 90-200 pounds. If you don't want the furniture in your house rearranged, don't get a pig.
2. Their little snouts are cold, wet, and extremely tough. They can tear up a lawn in no time. And don't think carpet is immune to their attentions!
3. Pigs are 4-legged porcine poop-producing, methane making machines. If you can't stand poop or farts, don't get a pig.
4. Pigs need outdoor time- make sure they have a safe place to play. Preferably not on the good lawn!
5. Pigs can live up to 18+ years. They are part of the family.
6. Pigs eat a lot! And as they grow, they shed their skin and are constantly itchy. My coffee table in the living room will never be the same.
7. Don't expect them to be perfectly potty trained- they are livestock. Pigs are inherently neat animals, but accidents happen.
8. Pigs crave attention. Make sure you have enough time in your day for them.

Well, that's about all, my creatively obsessed friends. Next blog I hope to have a guest- a really cool one!


P.S.- you can see Sherman's antics on my YouTube channel:


  1. Yes, I made the same impulse purchase! We had a boxer, and although the books said dogs should never be left with your pig, Oscar and Piggy were best buds. And when the meter-man left the gate opened, those two would go yard to yard terrorizing the neighbors, Oscar to pee on everything, Piggy to scrounge for acorns. But they used the buddy system, so I knew if I could spot one, I'd have them both back. I taught Piggy three card Monty. That was just plain funny. But my best memory was teaching Piggy to sit. He simply didn't see the sense in it when he figured he could just keep jumping on me to get his treat. But Oscar knew they were paired together and if Oscar was going to get his treat, Piggy had to be sitting as well. So Oscar trained Piggy to sit. He simply put his paw on Piggy's rear until Piggy sat, then gave me those big brown eyes. And I quickly dished out the treats before Piggy could stand again. Oh, the memories you've brought back! Thank you!

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