Two years old and weighing in at 89 pounds of pure love, Norman, from Kemp, Texas – is “not just a pig.” After 17 years of wanting a pig, Norman’s sweet Mama, Misty, finally had her dream come true in January of 2013. Norman is a Certified Therapy Pig and here is his story.
PE🐽NY: How did Norman come into your life? I have wanted a pig for 17 years. 17!! I knew from research it would take lots of work and dedication. We had four dogs. After two of them passed from old age, I knew I was ready and had the time to devote to having a pig. I did tons of research, and I had already liked and read up on Les Petite Pigs, from Moscow Mills, Missouri. I really liked Dawn (the breeder) and her ethics and how she treated all her piggy babies and adults, and decided that this was where I would get my piglet from. Dawn had Norman (five months old at the time) and a little girl piglet that was ten weeks old, but we fell in love with Norman from all of his online videos and pictures growing up. I contacted Dawn and she was very informative and made sure I would give a proper loving home to Norman. She had already started training Norman and knew he was special . . . I promised I would keep up with his tricks and that he would be “the best pig ever!” (Dawn still keeps in touch with us and Norman . . she loves to hear of his progress, shares his accomplishments and sends him birthday and Christmas presents every year).
PE🐽NY: What inspired you to work with Norman to become a Certified Therapy Pig? Keeping with my promise to his breeder, I continued working on Norman’s tricks. At the time, I had no idea what a therapy animal was. I took Norman with us everywhere I could (town festivals, camping, Lowes, etc.). When word got out that Norman could do tricks, we got invited to a few schools and festivals to show off! During all of this is when it clicked! Norman made SO many people happy . . so back to the internet I went and stumbled upon therapy animals, read up on it, and I just knew this is what Norman was meant to do, and it was (and still is) making people happy!
PE🐽NY: What does being a Certified Therapy Pig actually mean? A therapy animal, in my opinion, is a very special role and takes a unique animal to fulfill such a great duty. The human-animal bond brings a strong impact to humans and animals both. These special animals positively influence the health and well-being of those they encounter, positively effecting emotional and physical health. Pet Partners is one of the few organizations that accept pigs, and Norman and I are very grateful for that.
PE🐽NY: What is the certification process? All animals must pass a skills and aptitude evaluation every two years to remain registered as a therapy pet. This evaluates the animal/handler team, on how well the handler interprets and manages the animals behavior and how well the animal responds to the handler. Handlers (me) are also required to pass a handlers course beyond basic obedience skills. Time is spent learning ways to support the animal while on visits, as well as becoming oriented with the standards of the Therapy Animal Program. An Animal Health Screening from the vet is also required.
PE🐽NY: Norman can do 22 tricks! Wow! How long did this take? We continue to learn everyday. We have been working with Norman since we got him at five-months old. His first mommy, Dawn (his breeder), started teaching him tricks right away. He already knew how to sit, spin and get up onto a stool when we welcomed him into our life. Dawn knew he was special and we promised to keep up his abilities and let his light continue to shine. Those wanting to see Norman’s tricks can check him out on You Tube and his Facebook page.
PE🐽NY: Norman does sign-language. How did this start and why? Being a Certified Therapy Pig, I knew he could take his abilities and maybe try to connect with those that do not have the ability to hear. I wanted to teach him sign language with the hopes that people with hearing disabilities can maybe connect with him and see that being different is a really cool thing and that the IMPOSSIBLE IS ALWAYS POSSIBLE! Sign language is something new to us, and we are still learning. Norman can sign his colors – yellow, blue, orange and purple. He is also working on the words pig, dad and mom.
PE🐽NY: Can you describe a typical visit? Pet Partners allow us to visit a maximum of 2 hours per visit. In most cases, when we visit an assisted living facility, the activities director gathers the residents in a common area they are comfortable in. They sit in a large circle and Norman sets up his stage area in the center. Typically, people have lots of questions so I start off by speaking about Norman (where he came from, his age, his weight, his diet and how everyday life is spent with us). Following that, Norman performs his tricks which everyone LOVES. We then do a Q and A session due to all the curiosity everyone has. To close our session, we go around the circle so everyone has a chance to pet Norman, feed him Cheerios and have some one-on-one time. We make about 2-4 visits per month at various places that request him.
PE🐽NY: What is the best part of having a pig? For me, I would say EVERYTHING! He completes me!
PE🐽NY: What is the biggest challenge, if any, in having a pig? Being dedicated and on top of your toes. They are just like having a toddler, forever.
PE🐽NY: What is one pig fact that pig owners (and non-pig owners) would be surprised to hear? They will get bigger than 25 pounds (lol)!
PE🐽NY: Any advice for those wanting to get a pig? Be very dedicated and well-educated about the animal. They rely on you, so be prepared to be a caretaker.
Norman! You are such a shining star! Huge shout out to you for being amazing and to your family for supporting you to be the very best pig you can be! True living is giving – and that is undoubtedly what you and your family believe in. We are lucky to know you Norman, and can’t wait to stand alongside of you on your journey and always show our support! We love seeing your day to day smiles and videos on Instagram @normannotjustapig, Facebook and You Tube! Thank you for being our Outstanding Pig of the Week. Love, PE🐽NY