Sunday, November 14, 2010

Oldest Pig on the Block / Ode to Piggy Sue

I was reading in the Dallas Morning News earlier this week that the "Oldest Pot Bellied Pig"(documented by the Guiness Book of World Records) had passed away at the ripe old age of 21. Turns out, Oscar lived just 1 & 1/2 hours away, in Dallas. Who knew??? In the article, the writer also mentioned that the normal life expectancy of a PBP is 12-15 years. This I did not know, and apparently, Piggy Sue doesn't know either :)....and I'm not going to tell her :).

Piggy Sue has been known as our "Grandma Pig" around here for the last few years. She is roughly 17. Piggy Sue was our first rescue when we moved up to this area 16 years ago. She had been living in an apartment with a well-meaning young guy who had followed the "trendy pet of the year" gang, and had bought her.....and had also bought in to the misconception that pigs make great apartment pets. Uhh, right.

Pigs are brilliant creatures, and can be taught pretty much any trick you could teach a dog (within their physiological capabilities!). I personally can attest to the fact that a pig can and does hold the ability to reason (I've seen it in action). However, while you CAN give a pig an education, you cannot take away their instincts. I will leave it up to your imagination what kind of damage a pig, whose natural instincts include rooting and nesting, could inflict on an apartment or house if left unsupervised. Heck, I guess you could say that about kids too...who am I kidding???

All this to say, we ended up with a sweet yearling piglet whom we renamed Piggy Sue (I honestly don't even remember her original name). And in the last 16 years, we have loved sweet piggy.

She's kept us laughing as she hung out with the other animals that have passed thru Ararat Acres' gates. In her younger years, she outraced Charlie in a footrace. (Charlie will never admit he was beat by a pig...he claims to have been tripped.)Piggy Sue learned to use the doggy door, could sit for a treat, and wore matching bandanas with her doggie peeps.

Piggy Sue can pick up on emotions almost instantly. When she was a younger pig, if a farm guest was afraid of her, she would puff up her hair and grunt menacingly (although harmlessly!), as though she knew she could convince the visitor that their fears were valid. Not! However, if a guest showed zero fear, she would be sweet as pie to them. Honestly, I think she got a kick out of making kids (and adults) think she was one big bad pig..... when she thought she could get away with it.

A few things we have learned about pigs:
Truly, given the option, they DON'T like mud, especially if it's cold wet mud. She would tiptoe out to eat and pee, and then go right back into her room.

Pigs have a large and distinctive vocabulary. Every grunt has a very specific meaning based on tone, pitch, and cadence. In a split second, I can tell you if she is happy, angry, content, hungry, territorial, in pain, or pleased with herself (just to name a few).

I am not a vegetarian, but I don't eat a ton of meat. Living with an intelligent pig has reinforced my belief that all animals deserve to live a dignified life in the surroundings that they were meant to live (ie- in a pasture with fresh food and water. NOT in a feedlot). I've just seen too many irrefutable examples that animals do have feelings, which do include fear and despair.

Piggy Sue has terrible arthritis now, and she sleeps most of her days away. A couple of years ago, we had to move her to a bedded down stall (we always leave the door open). She had decided that no old woman should have to go outside on a rainy cold day to go to the bathroom. (This did not jive with our belief that one can have many animals and still be clean folks.) On a beautiful day, she may come out and sleep in the sun. I think she has three teeth left. Because of this, her daily diet now consists of small food pellets and bananas. She loves her bananas.
I figure, in pig years, sweet Piggy Sue is roughly 96 years old. That's pretty dang old.....even for a sweet loveable pig.


  1. So sweet...and just what I needed to read today. Hugs.

  2. I did not know all that about Piggy Sue. I think more bios are needed on the residents at Ararat Acres.