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Meet Ellie.

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When I think of sweet things, I think of babies, huge rainbow lollipops, sprinkles, smiles and one of the cutest pigs I know, Eleanor VonPinkSnout. This 20 pound bundle of sugar is six months old and comes to us from Gilbert, Arizona. Ellie lives with her mommy, daddy, brother (7 years), sister (2 years) and Pepper, a Coopers Hawk, that her daddy recently acquired for his nature sport, Falconry.

PE🐽NY: Have you always wanted a pig? I wanted a piggy for a year or so before getting Ellie. At that time, my husband and I both worked full time, which was tough enough with two kiddos, so it was just unrealistic. Neither of us have ever owned a pig before, but I had read a lot about them and was aware of the commitment.

PE🐽NY: How did you finally decide on getting Ellie? We had two dogs and found out that our daughter was severely allergic to them (cats too). We tried everything to treat her allergies, but we ended up having to re-home our dogs to family friends. Even though we knew the families it was still a heartbreaking experience. I was upset that our children may not get the opportunity to experience the special kind of love pets bring to the home and voiced my concerns. One of our friends jokingly said, “What about a pig? They have hair, not fur.” From that point on, my obsession was born. I knew our family HAD to have a pig.  I waited until the end of summer to start looking for a little piggy. I wanted to be sure that our family was done with summer vacations before making the commitment. 

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PE🐽NY: Where did Ellie come from? She came from a little farm out in the dairy lands of Maricopa, AZ. I found her through an ad on craigslist. I know, I know . .  that is not the recommended route to take (because so many people get ripped off) but I felt confident in my abilities to ask the right questions. I always tell people I really lucked out with Ellie. The lady who sold her to me was very open and honest. I feel really fortunate. Ellie was five weeks old when we got her. I felt it was a little young, but I was comfortable with it since she was eating solid foods and I had done a lot of research for her care. I knew she was meant to be with us the moment I sat her in my passenger seat.  

PE🐽NY: Are you still working full time? No. I am blessed to stay at home with my toddler and Ellie. I am in graduate school, but I only have class one night a week. My husband mans the ship during that time. I try not to leave her alone too much because I know she gets lonely and upset. They are herd animals, so I know that interaction is important to her well being.

PE🐽NY: What are Ellie’s favorite things to do? She loves to eat, play/root outside and cuddle. She also likes to go “bye-bye” in the car. A big part of her morning routine is taking her big brother to school. She cries when she cannot go so I have to distract her with a treat if I am leaving her home.

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PE🐽NY: What does Ellie eat? Her primary diet consists of fresh fruits and veggies. She loves leafy greens like fresh spinach and kale. Ellie gets two little servings of pig chow each day and whatever else she can scavenge from the kitchen. I love to make her homemade treats and let her try little bits of the food I cook for our family. Her favorite snacks are grapes, apples and carrots. Her absolute favorite snacks are the sweet potato chips I make for her – she goes nuts for them!

PE🐽NY: Does Ellie have any silly habits? She loves to mess with stuff as we put it away because she thinks it’s a game. Ellie also loves to lay in warm laundry that is fresh out of the dryer. My favorite sound she makes is the piggy bark she does in anticipation of food or someone knocking at the door. Sometimes I think she is a dog!

PE🐽NY: Where does Ellie sleep at night? Ellie sleeps in bed with my husband and I. My husband is to blame for that one. He brought her up on the first night and she has been there ever since. He is actually in the process of building her a ramp so she can get up there by herself.

PE🐽NY: Ellie is currently recovering from eye surgery. What happened? Ellie had terrible entropion in her right eye, which was causing her a lot of discomfort and grumpiness. (Entropion happens when the eyelid, usually the lower lid, folds inward. It can be painful, as the eyelashes constantly rub against the eyeball. It can cause scarring and permanent vision loss. It is fairly common in pot-bellies and is hereditary.)

PE🐽NY: When/How did you discover that she had entropion? When Ellie was around five months old I noticed a shift in her personality and saw that she was very protective of her right eye. I looked at it closely and saw that her lashes were laying directly on her eyeball. I knew from my research that this was common in pigs, but it was unfortunate to have it happen to my girl. I took her to the vet and they confirmed my suspicions; they gave her some drops and oral medication to treat the immediate discomfort and recommended an eye tacking procedure as the initial step. (Eye tacking is where they stitch the eyelid up in hopes that the scar tissue will build up and keep it in place.) Ellie went through the eye tacking procedure and the recovery was minimal (drops, ointment and no scratching) but I could tell right away it did not give us the results needed. At her follow up, I was told she would need to undergo the more evasive crescent removal surgery. 

PE🐽NY: What is crescent removal surgery and how did she do? The surgery consists of removing a crescent shaped piece of skin from her upper and lower eye lid and sewing the space together (kind of like an eye lift for pigs). The surgery was A LOT more intense. She was under anesthesia for about 30 minutes, had a ton of stitches and three different medications (oral and ointments). Luckily, this was the answer!!! She was a different pig after the anesthesia wore off. She doesn’t seem agitated anymore and is more comfortable with us being around her right side. Dr. Driggers of Avian and Exotic Animal Clinic in Gilbert did the surgery. He was, and is – amazing. 

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PE🐽NY: What is one pig fact that non pig owners (and owners) may be surprised to hear? Pigs are observational learners. I initially thought positive reinforcement with food was the only way to teach pigs, but I have seen Ellie do stuff as a result from watching us. In the mornings, we all kind of joke around by putting our morning breath in each other’s faces. Recently, I noticed Ellie starting to do it too! At first I thought she was just getting in my face because she was thirsty, but she would never drink any water.  It finally occurred to me one morning when my husband blew his breath in my face and Ellie came up behind him and did the exact same thing! I was in shock! She thinks it’s a term of endearment and it is so funny!

PE🐽NY: Any advice for those wanting a pig? The best advice I can give to anyone who wants a pet piggy is to do the research before buying/adopting. PLEASE make sure that it is a good fit for your family. Pigs are A LOT more emotional than dogs which makes it very traumatic for them when things don’t work out with their families. They are also A LOT harder to re-home. I know how easy it is to get caught up in the cuteness, but it is a tremendous amount of work (we would have ten pigs if we had them based on cuteness). Take it from someone who waited over a year for her pig-cess. Sometimes the right time does not align with the want time. It is important to recognize the difference and do what is best. 

Ellie Belly Pig-cess Piggy! Not only are you a brave little pig for handling your surgeries like a boss, YOU ARE A LUCKY PIGGY to have such a lovely family to love you, care for your well-being and bless you with a beautiful life. Pigs are sooooooo super special and your story is another tribute to that fact. Thank you for sharing your sweetness with all of us! We love following you on Instagram @elliebellypig and I am grateful for you being my Outstanding Pig of the Week. Love, PE🐽NY

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Meet Missy.

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County fair. County barn. Yorkshire. Hampshire. Grand Champion. These are all common words when you live in the world of show pigs. This story is about Missy, the (now) 600 pound former show pig, and her family (Bill and Bethany, and their son Blane) from Blairsville, Georgia.

PE🐽NY: How did you ever start showing pigs? We began showing pigs in 2009 when Blane, our son, was in the sixth grade. Our County Agent (a U.S. governmental official employed chiefly to advise farmers on farming and marketing techniques and to promote educational programs fitted to the needs of rural people) asked him if he would be interested and so it began.  Kids show the pigs through the clubs 4H and FFA.

PE🐽NY: What is 4H and FFA?  4H and FFA are youth organizations that promote life skills.  Students in these clubs are the ones who show the pigs. The 4″H’s” in 4H stand for: HEAD to clearer thinking, HEART to greater loyalty, HANDS to larger service and HEALTH to better living. FFA stands for Future Farmers of America.   

PE🐽NY: What is the process?  So… we get a piglet that is about 10-12 weeks old, raise it and show it at county fairs in the fall and county shows in the winter. (The county shows are usually put on by Alumni groups who help the students.)  We get the fall pigs in July or August and show them until the Georgia National Fair in October. We get the winter pigs in September or October and show them until February at the Junior National.  Gilts are evaluated for breeding.  We can ONLY show gilts and barrows.  

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PE🐽NY:  What is a gilt? A barrow?  gilt is a young female pig. In common use, gilt is used to refer to a pig that has not yet been bred, whether only a few months old or approaching a year. Technically, however, the term gilt is defined as a female pig that is less than six months old. A gilt is intact, or capable of breeding and producing young, and her reproductive organs are not surgically or chemically altered.  A barrow is a male pig that has been castrated or rendered incapable of reproducing before he reaches sexual maturity. Castration usually takes place while the pig is very young, at about two or three weeks of age. (If a male pig is allowed to become sexually mature and then is castrated, he is called a stag.) A barrow is less aggressive than a boar, or an intact male pig, and can be kept with other barrows and gilts. 

PE🐽NY: Tell me about Missy.  Missy was born on April 10, 2013.  She is a crossbred pig.  This means she is crossed with a Yorkshire and a Hampshire.  We bought her at an auction for the show season, fall 2013. Missy was ten weeks old and about 80 pounds when we brought her home.  She quickly became part of the family.  We house(d) her at the county livestock barn.  Missy had a very productive first season. She won the title of Grand Champion (highest honor a pig can receive) three times!  After the season came to end, Missy was kept as a breeding pig (instead of going to slaughter).  So far, she has produced three litters of piglets.  Her first litter yielded eight piglets.  We sold all the piglets to students for the show season.  Her next two litters produced fourteen piglets each time! Her last litter is being shown for this winter season. (We sell the piglets to students in 4H and FFA). Missy is VERY well known and loved by all! Students that have been around her cannot wait until the next litter is due so they can get on the list for a “Missy Pig!”

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PE🐽NY: How did her piglets do? Our first show of the winter season was almost a month ago in Athens, GA.  One of her offspring took first in class and Division Champion for lightweight hogs.  She also had one place second in class.  The student who owns both of these pigs has never had success such as this in the four years she has been in the project. 

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 PE🐽NY: Why did (do) you house her at the county livestock barn? Our county livestock barn is where students that have no place at home to keep their animals house them. Students go there to take care of their animals.  We also use it to house our sows (adult, female swines) until it is time to bring them home for farrowing (to give birth).  Currently, she is housed there.  When she is pregnant, she is housed at the barn at our house.  Missy gets A LOT of attention.  The students get her out and take her for walks.  We did not breed her for the fall season as we were in the process of upgrading her facilities.  She will only be in production for another couple of years.  After that, she will be retired to our farm where she will continue to be our pet pig.

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PE🐽NY: How does a pig become a Grand Champion? Pigs show by weight mostly.  They max out at 280, meaning that when we are raising them for show, that is the max they can be to enter. Body volume, skeletal and muscle structure, breed and lean/fat ratio are some other characteristics that come into consideration. 

PE🐽NY: What is the latest on Missy?  Currently, Missy weighs 600 pounds.  When she is here, we walk her on the road and get plenty of rubberneckers checking her out.  She is very lovable and gentle.  We breed her by artificial insemination.  We pick a boar by matching his traits to hers for maximum bone and muscle definition.  She is bred twice a year.  She is in a farrowing crate for 21 days then the piglets are weaned and she goes back to the barn.  

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Wow, Missy and family. Thanks for sharing. It is amazing to keep learning about pigs and how they affect the lives of others, in all ways. Show pigs, and house pigs, and pet pigs and companion pigs. The list goes on and on.  I LOVE Missy. She is a beauty, a champion and a mother. Sounds like a “queen piggy” to me. Hopefully now we all know a little bit more about the world of showing pigs.  I absolutely adore the programs 4H and FFA – developing the youth of today and having fun with pigs – DOUBLE WIN!!!! Thank you for being my Outstanding Pig of the Week and good luck to B and B Showpigs!!! We cannot wait to see the greatness Missy & Co keeps creating. Love, PE🐽NY

Meet Olive.

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Australia may be known for its Outback, Great Barrier Reef, kangaroos and duck-billed platypuses, but I am officially adding pigs to that list. This 7kg (15 pound), four-month old little princess comes to us all the way from Sydney, Australia. She lives there with her beautiful mum and dad, and their fur family.  Their beautiful family, on an acre of land lives Alfonse the Boston Terrier (2.5), Matilda Pearl the British Bulldog (2), Lola the Frenchie (5-6; she was adopted so not so sure), Murray, Ruby and Chester the goats, and three chickens- Harriet, Henrietta and Delilah.

PE🐽NY: Have you always wanted a pig? YES! I have always loved the idea of owning a pet pig! It wasn’t until we moved to acreage about 18 months ago, that it even became possible.  I have followed Prissy and Pop on Instagram for some time, and have given my love to dressing up my animals.  I could really see a pig fitting into my little posse! I put the hard word on my husband from day one, and eventually he gave in!

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PE🐽NY: How did you decide to get Olive? It’s a funny story. At the time (and still), I was following Tarsha (Jazzy’s Tiny Trotters) on Facebook. Olive’s mum went into labor and I was following every post!  It was a Friday night. I had a couple of wines and my husband was asleep.  I sent Tarsha a message and basically bought her within an hour of her birth.  I casually mentioned it to Nick (my husband) and he couldn’t get back to sleep after that.

PE🐽NY: Did you have to wait long for your piggy? We waited about six months.  Sadly, the first piglet we were getting from Olive’s breeder passed away in some very sad circumstances.  We called her Violette.  When the piglets in her litter were about three weeks old, they all contracted some sort of flu. All but two of them died within six hours of contracting the virus.  Unfortunately, Violette passed away.  It was very sad and I was devastated.  We then waited another few months for another litter to be born from a different mum. I always wanted a white baby girl, and our breeder Tarsha knew this.  She had Olive in mind for us from the minute she was born. Olive is the runt of her litter! I am in touch with the family who has her brother, and she is also a photographer (like me)! Olive’s brother Hugo is much bigger than she is.

PE🐽NY: When did you get Olive and how old was she?  We picked Olive up on the 5th of October, 2015.  She was seven weeks old.  She was TINY.  Tarsha is in the Albury area, which is basically on the border o f New South Wales and Victoria.  It’s about a six hour drive from where we live.  My brother lives about 15 minutes from the her farm, so we spent the long weekend with him and his family.  We took our nephews to meet Olive the day before we picked her up.  Funnily enough, I had never actually met a pig before, and Tarsha had about 20 pigs running around!  It was love at first sight for me, not so much for Olive.  She didn’t like being picked up, but now she loves a cuddle.

PE🐽NY: How did you find Tarsha (Jazzy’s Tiny Trotters)? I don’t even remember.  Given my pig obsession I was following a few different breeders on Facebook.  I love her pigs, they have long hair and beautiful faces.

PE🐽NY: Olive has a ring in her snout. Can you tell me more about that? Olive came home with a nose ring, which was put in by her vet while she was asleep getting desexed. I’ve noticed most breeders here in Australia send their piglets home with a ring.  We weren’t asked if we wanted it. I have come to realize very quickly that A LOT of people have an opinion on this, and I’ve been constantly having to explain what it is for!  Obviously, concerned with the response I got online, I asked Tarsha many questions, and she told me that it is through the skin, and WILL NOT and DOES NOT cause Olive any pain at all (just like a human piercing doesn’t cause a human any pain).  She is tiny now and the ring looks big, but she will grow to five times her weight, and it will be very small compared to her size.

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PE🐽NY: Can she still root with the ring? YES! She can root through soft ground.  The ring will just stop her from turning up the lawn and hard ground.  Olive has a paddock which we can easily keep her in, but she loves being with and around our dogs.  We think it is more important for her to be free to roam around grazing, playing and sleeping with our dogs all day, rather than be locked in a paddock with the goats who are not social animals like her.  

PE🐽NY: Do you plan on leaving the ring in? If at any stage it appears to be causing her distress then we can have it removed by her vet. It offends me when people suggest that Olive will be unhappy if she has a nose ring.  She is the happiest little piggy and the ring doesn’t appear to worry her.  We still might have it removed, we just will see how it goes when she gets bigger.

PE🐽NY: What are Olive’s favorite things to do? She LOVES to cuddle! If we are sitting on the couch, she nudges her way onto our laps.  She always has to be near us, or with the dogs.  She also loves grazing on the lawn, her face is constantly green.  It’s a full time job keeping that face sparkly white!

PE🐽NY: What are her favorite snacks? I’m pretty sure Olive would eat anything put in front of her, but we are very strict with her diet.  She’s pretty much a vegan!  She loves all kinds of fruit.  Banana, apple, mango and strawberries are all red hot faves!  Those are just snacks though. Her staple diet (per her breeder) consists of a mix of stock feed muesli, flaked barley, bran and oaten chaff.  She has this morning and night with chopped fruit and veggies mixed in.  

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PE🐽NY: Does Olive have an silly habits?  Olive loves music!  I love singing and she is my backup singer.  Whenever I sing she sings along.  It is adorable. 

PE🐽NY: Do you work? What does Olive do during the day? We both working in flexible jobs. I am in business development and I spend a lot of time on the road and working from home.  Olive hangs our with the dogs when we aren’t home!  They have free run of the whole property and the house.  My favorite part of every day is arriving home to my welcoming party. It’s so hilarious coming home and having three dogs and a pig waiting at the gate.

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PE🐽NY: What is the best part of having a pig? She is just so funny, and unexpectedly cuddly! People can’t believe it when I tell them I have a pet pig! It’s VERY uncommon in Australia.

PE🐽NY: What is the biggest challenge? Trying to keep her face clean! That’s it! She’s easy it’s honestly just like having a fourth dog.

PE🐽NY: What is one pig fact that non pig owners (and pig owners) would be surprised to hear? Here in Australia we don’t have teacup pigs.  Olive is classified as a miniature pig and she will grow to 50kgs (110lbs)! I pick her up as much as possible because some day soon I won’t be able to anymore!

PE🐽NY: Any advice for those wanting a pig? Olive has bonded with all of our dogs so much.  I think if you’re thinking of getting a pig, if you also have a dog than the pig will settle in right away! Tarsha mentioned she prefers her piglets to go to families who have dogs. We never expected in a million years that the dogs would be so accepting. Especially Lola (our Frenchie), she is really difficult with the goats and chickens, and we thought she would be mean to Olive too.  As it turns out, she is Olive’s adopted mum! She licks her belly and ears all the time and Olive loves it. They have the most magical bond.  It melts my heart on a daily basis.

Olive! I love that you live 8,500 miles away from me – and we are able to connect because of our special piggy community. You AND your beautiful mum are such a joy – and all of your doggy sisters and brothers, and chickens and goats (and dad too)!  Your pictures light up our life – and the love that your mum and dad have for YOU and all animals makes my heart sing so loud!!!! Very lucky piggy you are.  Thank you, to your mum, for educating us on your ring. As Einstein said, “Any fool can know. The point is to understand.”  Your mum’s photography is OUTSTANDING! I enjoy looking at your adventures on Instagram and following you at @abbylovephotography1. You’re beautiful. Thank you for sharing your story with me and for being my Outstanding Pig of the Week. Keep shining beauty! Love, PE🐽NY 

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Meet Pickle.

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This SUPER CUTE – pig and dad – model duo come to us from Greenville, South Carolina. Pickle joined his dad, Max DiNatale, in April 2015. Pickle, weighing in at 23 pounds, and his handsome pop (weight unknown, HAHA) are living the bachelor life and this is their story.

PE🐽NY: Have you always wanted a pig? I have always thought that pigs were cute, but really started wanting one over the past few years when I started learning how smart they were.  I mentioned to friends at work about wanting one, and the more and more I kept talking about it, the more I really wanted to do it – and eventually it just became a reality!

PE🐽NY: Where did Pickle come from? I did tons of research on my own because I didn’t know anyone personally who had ever had a pig. I wanted a breeder close enough so that I could pick up my pig (I didn’t want to have to ship across the country). I came across Orange Grove Farms in Florida. They were the one place that consistently answered all of my questions. Also, they ended up bringing Pickle (he was two months old) to Greenville for me! They are the best!

PE🐽NY: Pickle’s photo shoots are so cute! Are you having success with them? Yes! It’s been really fun! He is actually super good when it comes to staying still for the camera. Treats are usually involved – lots of Cheerios and raisins. My photographer friend, Lindsay Curgan, is super talented and is great at coming up with interesting set-ups and making them happen! Lindsay loves working with him.  Pickle is such a good boy in front of the camera – he is actually signed with a modeling agency in North Carolina.

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Photo courtesy of Lindsay Curgan Photo

PE🐽NY: I love all of Pickle’s photo shoots, but the birthday cake one is my favorite. Did you let him eat that whole Cheerio cake? What a great idea! Haha! That was for Pickle’s half birthday. He LOVED his Cheerio cake. It was carrot cake topped with Cheerios. No, he wasn’t allowed to eat the whole thing. He DEFINITELY would have, but he was only allowed to have a little piece.

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PE🐽NY: Where does Pickle sleep? He sleeps in the laundry room in his bed (it’s a big walk-in room). It’s basically become his bedroom!

PE🐽NY THE PIG: What are Pickle’s favorite things to do? SLEEP! Eat. Sleep more! He loves cuddling in warm places and loves to get curled up under my arm.

PE🐽NY: What does Pickle eat? What are his favorite snacks? Pickle eats dry pig food in the morning and tuna/lettuce/veggies at night. Snacks are at random times. Raisins are for sure his #1 favorite snack!! He eats anything – loves fruit like watermelon, strawberries, grapes, etc. The only thing he hasn’t liked so far has been raw carrots and some other raw things like yellow squash; he will eat carrots and squash, but they have to be cooked!

PE🐽NY: Does Pickle have any silly habits? Yes! He walks around snorting a lot! Not sure if that is normal, but just walking through the house, he is pretty noisy. He has running spasms a lot, where out of no where, he will just take off. Thankfully that’s never happened outside – he is too occupied with eating grass whenever we are out there. He also used to wake up in the middle of the night like 3, 4 or 5 AM and go CRAZY!! I started feeding him food to keep him quiet at that time, but stopped because I didn’t want him to get used to that. So, that ended, and he seems to get up just a little before I do every morning (if it’s earlier, I am too sound asleep to hear it I guess).

PE🐽NY: Do you work? What does he do during the day? I do! I imagine he does a lot of sleeping when I am not there. By the time I get home it’s usually dinner time, so he is ready for that, but on days where I come home in the afternoon or just earlier than normal, he’s always snoozing.

PE🐽NY: What is the best part of having a pig? They are so cute and lovable! I am the worst at reprimanding him because of his cuteness. Sometimes I have to break the water bottle out, and then I feel soooo bad (I just give him a little spray and he generally stops whatever he was trying to do). He is very loyal to me and loves the attention.

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PE🐽NY: What is the biggest challenge? When he was little, he was a lot more “scared” of certain things like being picked up, baths, etc. Now he is fine (as long as it’s me – if others pick him up the wrong way he still doesn’t like it). Walking on a leash has been a small challenge too because once he starts eating grass, he doesn’t want to move unless I persuade him with a better treat!

PE🐽NY: What is one surprising fact about pigs? Pigs CANNOT eat avocado. If you have a pig, please do NOT feed them this. Avocado is toxic to pigs.

PE🐽NY: Any advice for those wanting a pig? They do not stay small forever! But . . . neither do children!

PICKLE!!!!! Your sweet little face makes me melt every single time I look at it – and I know my Mommy has videos of you saved on her phone!  Your instagram is one of our favorites and you always make us smile! You bring joy to not only your daddy and his friends and family, but to all of us too! You’re awesome, and thank you so much for being my Outstanding Pig of the Week. Love, PE🐽NY

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Meet Jamon.

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This charming and very handsome three year old, 90’ish pound “micro pig,” who dons the hashtag #oinkmygod and takes pig photography to another level, comes to us from São Paulo, Brazil. Jamon is living the South American dream with his mom, dad and brother Nero (who is also a micro pig).

PE🐽NY: When did you get Jamon?  We got Jamon in June, 2013, when he was only a little cuddle bug. He was three months old.

PE🐽NY: Where did you get Jamon?  Jamon was born in the countryside of São Paulo, in a tiny city called São Roque.  We did some research on breeders of micro pigs in Brazil (there are not very many) and found Flavia, the owner of a very special farm.  Her farm only raises mini animals for domestic pets (mini goats, mini cows, some chickens, ducks and micro pigs).

PE🐽NY: Have you always wanted a pig? I have always loved animals, all kinds.  I suffered a lot after my dogs passed away from old age.  As a result of that, I researched animal life spans and learned that pigs live longer lives.  It was literally love at first sight with my pigs.  I am excited to grow old with them.

PE🐽NY: Jamon has a cartoon nano series? Yes! We both work in advertising and love to write content in our free time.  Since we had so much success with Jamon and social media outlets, we decided to transform him into a cartoon and bring even more joy to people – and it worked!  The first season features 12 episodes, each one is 15 seconds long.  We are hoping to have his second season go live next year!

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PE🐽NY: Jamon has made a few media appearances?  He likes to be on television! Haha! Just kidding. Since Jamon is an unusual pet, many television networks and other media sources have come to us to better understand how to raise a micro pig, why we wanted one, etc.  For us, it is nice to bring attention to people that micro pigs are not so micro, they have special needs, need a lot of attention and they are friends NOT food!!!  We love to have him participate in advertising and some video clips.  Follow Jamon in the media: Mashable, Good Morning America, Veja Magazine, HLN TV, and Wired UK (just to name a few)!

PE🐽NY: Where does Jamon sleep at night? Jamon has his own room that he shares with his brother, Nero (also a pig).  Their room has a big couch, a camping tent, many cushions, a big solarium and they have their very own bathroom (for baths).  I know a lot of pigs that wake up super early, but Jamon does not. He wakes up when he sees us wake up (usually around 8 AM during the week and 9:30 AM on the weekends).  When he is ready for bed at night, he likes to fluff up his pillow on the couch.  He will nudge me off the couch to do it if I am sitting in there with him. Too funny!

PE🐽NY: What are Jamon’s most favorite things to do? Eat. Sleep. REPEAT.

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Jamon and his brother, Nero.

PE🐽NY: What are Jamon’s favorite foods? His favorite fruit is watermelon; favorite vegetable is sweet potato; favorite snack is rice crackers and favorite sweet is coconut oil. I feed him small portions throughout the day.  He gets his special piggy food three times a day, and veggies/fruit three times a day (fruit only one serving because of the sugar).

PE🐽NY: Does Jamon have any silly habits? Haha! Jamon barks. When I arrive home, he wags his tail, barks and makes another sound that almost sounds like a monkey.  It’s so funny!  He also likes to pick up my flip-flops and walk around the room wagging his tail and barking. Silly little guy!

PE🐽NY: Do you work during the day? Yes, we both do, but I have a flexible schedule and can come home early to take Jamon for walks sometimes.  In addition to that, we keep someone at the house with the pigs all day long, they have a huge special garden to play in and they have a trainer.

PE🐽NY: What is the best part of having a pig? The love from a pig is AMAZING and pigs can also touch people to change habits and see us as pets and not as food.

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PE🐽NY: Do you eat pork? No, I am a vegetarian and have never eaten bacon or pork.  Jamon’s dad stopped eating it a few months after we got him.

PE🐽NY: What is the biggest challenge owning a pig? Their curiosity and their intelligence.  We are constantly improving our home to better receive Jamon and Nero.

PE🐽NY: What is one pig fact that non-pig owners (and pig owners) would be surprised to hear? My pigs are micro compared to regular pigs, but not all “micro pigs” are tiny as people perceive them to be.

PE🐽NY: Any advice for those wanting a pig? Owning a pig is a compromise for life, so do your research before adopting or purchasing one.  They have the same mind as a four year old child and will be like that forever.  They love to play sometimes with the wrong things, they need attention and they DO NOT like change.  Remember: Humans have friends, family an work.  The pigs just have humans.  All pets are like this.

Jamon! Thank you, thank you – to you and your family for sharing your feelings, adventures and accolades with us.  I smiled the whole time I learned and wrote about you, and it makes me ecstatic to share my special blog with someone as extraordinary as you – all the way in South America. I can’t wait to watch your next nano series and continue to smile big when I see your Instagram and Facebook posts! Thank you for being my Outstanding Pig of the Week. Love, PE🐽NY

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Meet Harper.

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This blue-eyed, 50-pound, 10-month old baby girl comes to us from New York and is something special.  Her mama, Ariel, is an angel and loves to rescue exotic animals.  Her piglet, sweet Harper is just like all of our amazing and extraordinary pigs, except for one thing – Harper cannot hear.

PE🐽NY: Tell us a little about your household. Who does Harper live with?  Harper lives with my boyfriend and I – and . . . . I have a 46-year old Blue & Gold Macaw that was surrendered over to my care two and a half years ago because she wasn’t cared for properly and had plucked out most of her feathers (still naked to this day).  She is jealous of Harper, so she is not the nicest to her, but has never hurt her.  I have an albino hedgehog, age unknown, also wasn’t being cared for properly and I have had her for one year now.  She is Harper’s “ouch-y” sister, and Harper knows it.  She will no longer go touch her, LOL.  She flinches every time she smells her.  I also have 3 rescued crested geckos that have all decided to lay eggs and have babies hatching everywhere (currently we have 5).  Lastly, my newest neglect case is a Moluccan Cockatoo.  She is estimated to be ten years old, very under weight, and has a tumor in between her legs the size of a small apple (I have been raising money for her surgery on 12/10/15).  She has been home with me for almost two weeks now, she doesn’t quite know what to think of the pig.  

PE🐽NY: When did you get Harper?  I got Harper on March 15, 2015.  She was 7 1/2 weeks old and roughly 8 pounds.

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PE🐽NY:  Where did you get her from?  I got Harper from Fingerlakes Mini Pigs in Canandaigua, NY.  A friend posted a picture online holding her. I came to find out that Harper couldn’t go home with that friend.. their stars weren’t aligning, so I went to take a look.  I had ALWAYS wanted a pig.  It took me a few hours playing with the piglets to decide if I was finally ready for one, and I decided I was. It was time.  As you know now, I’m a sucker for exotics and around that time I was also having baby fever.  Harper was the perfect fix.

PE🐽NY:  How did you discover she was deaf?  Just things – like, scaring her walking around a corner, or not coming to us when we called her.  She never would hear her food hit the bowl (which I heard was a pretty big deal for pigs).  She’d go nuts when she finally smelled it, but never heard it.  It took us about a month to finally come to the conclusion that she couldn’t hear.  I was upset at first  (I think because in my mind she was my first “non-special” pet) BUT Harper is absolutely perfect and I would not trade her for anything.  Her being deaf makes no difference in her day to day life.  She is still smart as a whip.  

PE🐽NY:  Did you take her to get tested to confirm your assumptions?  We did not.  There is only one vet in our area that does the BAER hearing test, and it was kind of pointless because we already knew.  The vet that spayed her also believed she was deaf.  

PE🐽NY:  Does Harper know sign language?  Harper knows a few formal signs (like good/bad girl – LOL).  For the most part, she knows hand signals that we have come up with ourselves.  

PE🐽NY:  Where does Harper sleep?  She was sleeping in bed with us, but I move so much at night it was causing her to think it was morning and time for breakfast every time!  So, now she snuggles with us until we are ready for bed, then she goes in the bathroom and sleeps in her repurposed pack-n-play (with a dog bed and a bunch of blankets in it).  

PE🐽NY:  What are her favorite things to do?  Harper absolutely LOVES her rooting box!  She will stand in there whenever she is bored and expect Cheerios (usually her wish gets granted).  She loves going on walks, playing with her treat dispensing toys, going through the other animals’ things and everything else she shouldn’t be getting into.  She loves snuggling and I am happy for that because that is what I was looking for (none of my other animals like to cuddle, LOL).  She also can sit, spin both ways and shake.  

PE🐽NY:  What do you feed her?  In the morning, Harper eats a 50/50 mixture of oatmeal oats and pellets soaked in warm water with a Vitamin E pill and her Flinstones gummy vitamin.  At night, she gets that same mixture, but with coconut oil, and I top it with whatever type of lettuce I have, some Plum Organics baby food squeezed on top and lately I have been topping her dinner with some shredded mozzarella cheese (she loves that).  In between feedings, she loves to snack on Cheerios, grapes, peppermint horse snacks, baby puffs (haha – she will eat anything really). 

PE🐽NY:  Does Harper have any silly habits?  She has to root on me every  night for roughly 30-minutes with her eyes closed and then she will finally lay down.  She will ONLY do this on me.  Also, every night, within a half hour of dinner time (7:30 PM) she will pace back and forth and whine until she is fed. Harper also makes EVERY sound under the sun, LOL.  She wakes up anywhere between 5-6:30 AM.  I have a new job, so her routine is a little messed up still, but sometimes I am lucky and she sleeps in to that 6:30 AM mark, LOL.

PE🐽NY:  What does she do while you are at work all day?  We keep her safe from trouble and leave her in the bathroom during the day.  She has her grass-patch pee pad, rooting box, toy box and her pack-n-play in there to keep her occupied.  I stop home in between jobs when I can so that she can stretch, go outside to go potty and play.

unnamed  PE🐽NY: What is the best part of having a pig?  Being around an animal that is so unbelievably smart and affectionate.

PE🐽NY:  What is the biggest challenge?  She is stubborn and can be destructive.  (She likes to tear up her wee-wee pads and drag them around the bathroom, and she likes to go through my macaws stuff, LOL).  

PE🐽NY:  What is one pig fact that pig owners (and non-pig owners) would be surprised to hear?  Hmmmm…not really sure.  They have a lot of emotions and I have heard they can cry real tears.

PE🐽NY:  Any advice for those wanting a pig?  PLEASE do your research and when you think you know it all, keep going.  There’s more.  Please know the responsibility you are committing to and know that you have to stay open to continue to learn as you go and figure out new things- constantly.  Pigs are a toddler on steroids, and will ALWAYS be a toddler.

Oh sweet Harper, you are beautiful.  There is not a single doubt in my mind, even for a second, that you and your special mommy, Ariel, weren’t brought together on purpose. Your mommy has a heart bigger than the world and has a way with special animals, and you needed someone like that. Not all things are coincidental.  You are blessed to have the family you have, and we are blessed to know a pig as amazing as you are.  Thank you for lighting up our hearts and thank you, Harper, so much – for being my Outstanding Pig of the Week.  Love, PE🐽NY

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Meet Pumpernickel.

Sweet itty-bitty Pumpernickel comes to us from Orange County, New York.  At five-months old and weighing in at a whopping six pounds, this little guy will make you smile.  Pump lives with his lovely mama, Alex, and her family (mom, dad and brother). Here is their story as they learn the piggy way.

PE🐽NY: What inspired you to get a pig?  Honestly, I don’t even know how I arrived at the idea of wanting a pet pig!  I think it was after I watched the movie Uptown Girls. That movie gave me high expectations of having a pig (lol), and for sure planted the seed.  I was ready for a new pet, and so, on July 27th, 2015, Pump joined our family.  

PE🐽NY: Where did you get Pumpernickel?  He came from a breeder called NY Teacup Piggies. We waited about a month for Pump.

PE🐽NY: Do you have any other pets? Yes, I have a dog, Penny. She has been a part of our family for years. Penny and Pump don’t really get along that well, and for the most part, we have to keep them separated.  We are working on it though.

PE🐽NY: How does the rest of the family do with him?  Great. My mom, especially.  She adores him!  She holds him, sleeps with him, kisses him, takes him out, bathes him, etc.  She’s not really an “animal person,” but she can spend a whole day with Pump.  He has totally won her over!

PE🐽NY: Where does Pumpernickel sleep?  Pump has multiple spots to sleep in.  He sleeps either in his bed in my room, his kennel downstairs, my parents bed (lol), very rarely my bed, or he’ll be sneaky and use Penny’s bed in the kitchen.  When he sleeps in his kennel downstairs and hears somebody coming, he starts grunting and he makes this really deep grunt/moan and its really, really funny! We’ve all come to learn that it’s actually a noise he makes when he’s mad and wants food! Ha! I love it!

PE🐽NY: How often does Pumpernickel get bathed?  Pump gets a bath once every two weeks.  In between, to keep him clean, we wipe him down with baby wipes.  When his skin seems a little dry, he gets a coconut oil rubdown. He’s not the biggest fan of the water.  Bath time can be a little tough, but he loves his warm and cozy blanket at the end!

PEONY: What does Pumpernickel eat?  Pump eats a pellet feed and his snacks.  His favorite snacks are cucumber, papaya, pineapple and my dog’s food (lol – he always searches for it, but never finds it).  He also knows the sound of the refrigerator door opening.  He gets up from his bed and waits, lol.  To be clear, he doesn’t always get his way.  

PEONY: What does Pumpernickel like to do?  Pump is easily entertained!  He likes to sleep or go outside and sleep in the sun. (Ha! He even sleeps standing up!!!)  He loves cuddling too.  He likes to go out with my mom and I, and loves the attention.  Sometimes when we are out walking, he will randomly stop and stare at me.  I’ve come to learn that he does that when he wants me to pick him up and of course, I do!  Sometimes Pump wakes up at 2:30 AM for unknown reasons. I’ll take him outside and he does nothing. LOL!  Silly pig.

Pump sleeps standing up!

PE🐽NY: What is the best part of having a pig?  It’s amazing being around such a unique animal and learning his particular ways.  He depends on me to take care of him and knows that I love him very much.  

PE🐽NY: What has been the biggest challenge?  The first couple of weeks were really hard.  He screamed and screamed and did NOT like being picked up.  He doesn’t really scream that much anymore, but won’t let a lot of people hold him.  He really only comes to us when we have food (haha) or to be picked up.  He used to bite me a lot, too, but I taught him that wasn’t okay and he stopped.

PE🐽NY: Any pig facts that pig owners (and non-pig owners) would be surprised to hear?  Pigs have their very own schedule.  They love being outside in the heat, but dislike the cold and rain.  Pump screams when it’s cold outside.  They’re always looking and observing, and get random freckles (lol).  Pump sleeps A LOT too!  He doesn’t smell (at all) and he’s just the cutest bundle of joy, EVER!

PE🐽NY: Ha! Tell me about these random freckles?  They came out of nowhere!  I think they came from the sun, but I’m not sure. He doesn’t wear sunscreen, but he never stays out that long (10-minute increments).  I think it’s funny . . I have freckles on the left side of my face, and one day little freckles came out on the left side of his face!

PE🐽NY: Any advice to someone wanting to get a pig?  Pigs have different temperaments.  I have a little “divo” on my hands, but I’m confident that after he gets neutered, he will be a little easier.  Get them used to a harness and a leash early, and don’t over-feed them even if they look cute staring up at you.  They require A LOT of patience and time.  I am still learning myself.   

Pump! You are so adorable and definitely on your way to being a well-mannered sweet little boy.  Ya know, us piggy’s can be a handful sometimes, and with a little patience and a loving family, we will always find our way.  Sounds like you are gifted with all of that, and more! We love being your friend. Follow Pumpernickel’s cuteness on Instagram!  Thank you for being my Outstanding Pig of the Week!  Love, PE🐽NY

Meet Bacon.

Cancun is known for its white sand beaches, near-perfect weather and bright-blue waters. As of today, I am officially adding Mr. Bacon the PigStar to this list.  There is no way you can look at this blue-eyed, extremely handsome pig and not smile. Bacon, born and raised in Mexico, will be turning one at the end of December and weighs in at around 39 pounds.  He resides in Cancun with his loving parents.

PE🐽NY: Have you always wanted a pig?  I have always wanted a pig, but for my husband the idea of actually having one was absurd.  When I went from looking at them on the internet to actually thinking of getting one, he told me that I was being ridiculous, haha.  After some time and a lot of work, I managed to convince my husband, and now he is crazy about the pig!  Sometimes I think he loves Mr. Bacon more than he loves me, haha.

PE🐽NY: What finally inspired you to get one?  I have always been an animal lover.  When we moved to Cancun, my husband was starting a new job, and was gone for hours upon hours.  I started to feel down.  We decided to get a pet to keep me company while he wasn’t home.  Since I always wanted a pig, this was the perfect opportunity.  

PE🐽NY: Where did Mr. Bacon come from?  We got him from a breeder called Mini Pigs Mexico, located in Mexico City.  I saw a capsule on Animal Planet where they showed a pig from that breeder and so I looked them up.

PE🐽NY: Did you have to wait long for him?  We waited for two weeks to see the new babies.  When we met Bacon, we knew right away he was the perfect one for our family.  It was love at first sight.  After we chose him, we had to wait about one more month until they would send him home.  Bacon was around 2 months old when he came home, and only weighed about 2.5 pounds.  He was the cutest thing ever. He still is.

PE🐽NY: Does Mr. Bacon like to swim? When he was younger he hated the water, but one day he discovered how refreshing it was and now he loves it.  Bacon is an excellent swimmer, but he prefers to swim in a shallow pool or somewhere he can stand.  He loves going to the beach and getting wet from the ocean. Bacon also LOVES the sand! He likes to run, root and wallow all over the place.  He is the happiest pig in the world when he gets to go to the beach.

PE🐽NY: Living in Mexico, do you have to put sunscreen on him everyday?  No, because he spends most of his time in a a garden which is partly covered by trees where he can hide from the sun.  When we go out to the beach, he definitely needs to wear sunscreen even though he HATES it.  I have to chase him down every time!

PE🐽NY: What are Mr. Bacon’s favorite things to do?   Bacon LIVES for and loves to eat, haha.  He also likes to play with plastic bags, rubber bands and shoes.  He likes to take long walks and to chase me around the house.  When he gets really excited, he barks! His favorite snacks are grapes, pasta, Cheerios, cherry tomatoes and cucumber, among many other things.

PE🐽NY: Where does Mr. Bacon sleep?  He sleeps in our room but he has his own bed full of blankets next to ours.  He also likes to sleep in the closet from time to time, haha.

PE🐽NY: What are some of his silly habits?  Bacon wakes up at 7AM sharp every day.  He doesn’t care if it is Tuesday or Sunday, or if we stayed up late the night before.  He is up and he wants our attention!  He eats three times a day and it seems that he has a clock inside, because when it is time to eat, he starts yelling like crazy until we serve his food.  He loves to stick his snout on the fridge every time someone opens it, and if he sees something he can reach, he will grab it and run like crazy.  Paper cannot be left unsupervised in our house because we will find it all chewed up.  If we are doing something, and he wants our attention, he will go to the things that bother us the most like pulling the cables of the lamp or pulling the sheets on the bed, just to get our attention.  Bacon also has selective hearing.  We can be next to him and call his name but if he doesn’t want to go with us, he will suddenly go deaf.  Now, if we dare to open a bag of chips or open the fridge, he will hear it from a mile away and come running as fast as he can.

 

PE🐽NY: Does Mr. Bacon do any tricks?  Bacon is very smart and he learns tricks pretty quickly.  He knows how to sit, shake hands, give kisses, do turns, stay and to recognize some colors.  Right now he is learning to push different buttons for treats!

PE🐽NY: Do you work out of the house?  I do not, so I spend most of my time with him.  When we have to go out, we either leave him at home if its only for a few hours, or if its going to take longer, we take him to a daycare for animals.  

PE🐽NY: Do you personally eat pork?  No. We used to, but after living with Mr. Bacon we just couldn’t eat it anymore.  They are too wonderful and intelligent to end up as food.  They have too much more to give.

PE🐽NY: What is the best part of having a pig?  I love his snout and his little hooves.  I love to see how he acts like a human.  Sometimes I swear there is a child in there.  When we get home, even if we were gone for just a few minutes, he greets us so loud!! It is the best sound in the world!!  I love how he smells, and all the sounds he uses to tell us different things, even though I don’t always understand what he wants (but he will keep trying!).  When I get down on my knees and try to talk in his language, he actually responds. It is really amazing. 


PE🐽NY: What is the biggest challenge with having a pig?  They are not like dogs, cats or any pet you can think of.  They have a rare personality, so you have to get used to it.  He is very independent but at the same time depends on us to live.  They have schedules, and you have to stick to them because they know them by heart and get crazy if something is different.  A big challenge has been to entertain him without getting him fat, because pigs lose interest on new things very easily and the only thing that seems to work every time is food! Haha.

PE🐽NY: What is one pig fact that pig owners (and non-pig owners) would be surprised to hear?  Pigs love soap.  Every time someone bathes, Bacon gets into the shower hoping we have accidentally dropped a piece of soap he can eat!!

PE🐽NY: Any advice for someone wanting a pig?  Get very well-informed before getting one.  Listen to people who already have pigs, ask them questions.  There are also some Facebook groups you can join before deciding.  You can see all the good and the bad things that can happen when you live with a pig, and ask all the questions you have.  Pigs will grow big, or at least most of them will grow to be at least 50-55 pounds.  Very few pigs stay as small as you imagine when people talk about “mini pigs.”  Having a pig can be very satisfying, you fall in love with them immediately and they make your life very, very happy. BUT- they take a lot of work and dedication.  Pigs live between 15-25 years, so please be committed for that amount of time. 

Oh, Mr. Bacon. What a light you bring to this world and to your family, and smiles to the faces of those who get to enjoy you (from near and far). Your sweet soul can be felt by the way your mom talks about you, and the happiness you radiate in all of your pictures! Thanks for making us smile every single day with your funny Instagram videos and pictures @mr_bacon_the_pigstar! You are another solid example of why pigs are so amazing.  Thank you so much for being my Outstanding Pig of the Week. Love, PE🐽NY

 

Meet Chewy.

On September 10th, 2015, in New Jersey, a 700-pound pig went into labor, nine days early. The labor was very difficult and only five babies were viable at birth. One survived. Here is the story about Chewy, a miracle pig.  All the odds were against her survival, but the love and dedicated commitment of Linda and Rebecca (mom and daughter), gave this piglet a chance at life.

PE🐽NY:  How did Chewy become so lucky to find you, and vice versa? Rebecca (Chewy’s human mom) holds an Animal Science degree and works on a unique farm that is focused on education.  Rebecca was present the day of the birth, and assisted in the labor.  Post delivery, Chewy had a lot of fluid in her lungs and Rebecca spent a lot of time clearing them, trying to get her to breathe. Upon arriving to work the next day, Chewy was the only little piglet to survive the night. Since it was a Friday, and Chewy would need round-the-clock care to survive, Rebecca decided to bring her home for the weekend.  

PE🐽NY: How did Chewy do?  Rebecca brought her home and introduced her to me, her grandmother, and the rest of the family. Rebecca and I took turns feeding Chewy every two hours, the whole weekend. She had a lot of problems drinking from a bottle and had to be tube fed.  I kept trying different ways to encourage Chewy to drink, and finally came up with cupping my hand under her mouth and wrapping the bottle with a towel.  Chewy seemed to really like this, and took to drinking from the bottle.      

PE🐽NY:  Did Chewy return to the farm on that following Monday?  No. Chewy needed 24 hour care, and we gave it to her, day after day.  She was drinking from a bottle now and sleeping under a heat lamp in our kitchen, but her biggest problem was her liquid bowels. They wouldn’t firm up, and it seemed like Chewy was slipping away.  

PE🐽NY:  What kind of milk were you feeding her?  Chewy was drinking fresh, raw goat milk from one of my goats (out of a regular baby bottle).  Goat milk is the next best thing for a piglet if their mother’s milk is not available.

PE🐽NY: Was Chewy making progress?  She really wasn’t, but we refused to give up on her.  We prayed and prayed for the answer, and knew it was divine intervention that brought us the answer.  

PE🐽NY:  What was it? It occurred to Rebecca and I on the same day that Chewy wasn’t digesting any of the milk she was drinking.  Since her immune system wasn’t very strong (we questioned if she even had one at all) we started thinking that the bacteria in the goat milk (that was not pasteurized) was the culprit making her sick.  So, we started pasteurizing her milk and it’s been a steady road to success ever since!  Chewy’s bowels normalized and she started gaining weight and growing like a weed.

  

PE🐽NY: How is Chewy doing today?  Chewy is almost two months old and twenty-five pounds! She is still on goat milk and slowly being introduced to fruits and veggies.  She is starting to forage around outside which is helping to build her immune system.  Chewy still likes to suck on my hand and I still love to bottle feed her.  Rebecca, on the other hand, wants her to be completely weaned and eat her food like a good little pig.

PE🐽NY: Is Chewy still sleeping in the house?  No. We are in the process of acclimatizing her to the barn.  She is starting to sleep out there. Chewy has fresh hay, her cozy bed (that she drags around everywhere) and a heat lamp is ALWAYS on. We have been blessed with an exceptionally mild fall and that is really making the acclimation process a lot easier for her (and us).  Chewy has a lot of friends out there.  We have 2 horses, 5 goats, chickens, dogs and an English lop rabbit.  

PE🐽NY: Chewy has the BEST ears and a corkscrew tail! What type of pig is she? Chewy is a four-way crossbreed: Landrace, Yorkshire, Hampshire and Duroc.  Her full grown weight will be approximately 700 to 800 pounds.  

  

PE🐽NY: Is Chewy a new permanent member of your animal family? YES!  Chewy will definitely be spending the rest of her life with us.  I have always had a love for animals (the same goes for my children and husband) of all kinds and my family knows they can bring any animal home for me to care for.

PE🐽NY: Chewy’s story really is a miracle. Do you agree? Oh, most definitely.  The normal gestation period for a pig is 114 days, so 9 days premature doesn’t sound like much, but it really is.  Most of the growing takes place in the final gestational days and the longer they are in the womb, the greater the rate of survival.  The first few weeks were very emotional with Chewy.. we really didn’t think she was going to make it. We prayed and hoped and kept fighting reality with possibility.  We think Chewy is finally “out of the woods.”

What a miracle! In fact, multiple miracles took place here. Chewy surviving was a miracle and Chewy being so blessed to have Rebecca and Linda in her life was another one! Love always prevails and this is a true indication of that. All life deserves a chance. I looooooooved sharing this story. It is so very special, and I hope Chewy’s story touches the hearts of others in the beautiful way it has touched ours. Please pray for her continued positive progress! We really believe in the power of prayer. Can’t wait to meet you, Chewy! Follow Chewy’s day to day progress on her Instagram @apignamedchewy or her Facebook page. Love, PE🐽NY

Meet Norman.

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.

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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 @normannotjustapigFacebook and You Tube! Thank you for being our Outstanding Pig of the Week.  Love, PE🐽NY

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