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playful pigsPot-Bellied Pigs: Sharp, Sassy and Special

by Marjorie Dorfman

Why are more and more people adopting and also abandoning pot-bellied pigs? What is it about these lovable intelligent critters that we humans can’t quite figure out? Read on to discover what we can learn from these distant relatives to the African Hippopotamus.

I like pigs. Dogs look up to us. Cats look down on us. Pigs treat us as equals.  Winston Churchill

Why are more and more people adopting and also abandoning pot-bellied pigs? What is it about these lovable intelligent critters that we humans can’t quite figure out? Read on to discover what we can learn from these distant relatives to the African Hippopotamus.

My first encounter of the porcine kind was with a most engaging black and white sow named Miss Delta Mae. She and her owner strutted their stuff among the Beagles, Standard Poodles, Persian Cats and Labrador Retrievers who called the grassy fields of my condo complex "home." Her owner, a rather dour, rail-thin young man, whose facial expression always reminded me of one who had just swallowed a lemon, kept her on a thick leather leash suspended by a rhinestone studded red yoke. They were indeed the very oddest pair! One day they were gone. There were whispers of zoning regulations, farm animals and undesirable residents. I wondered if they were referring to the owner or darling Delta Mae. I guess I’ll never know, but just the thought of that pig’s warm and loving nature warms my heart to this day.

pig at the doorMiss Piggy of Muppet fame and The Three Little Pigs of fairytale land all have their place in our cultural hearts. There was another sow, a miniature pot-belly, whom I never had the pleasure of meeting, but whose achievements impressed me very much. I shall call her Piggy Sue, as I do not recall her real moniker. She saved her owner’s life in the most imaginative way. A few years ago the television series, Unsolved Mysteries, featured this story about a woman who lived with her animals in a rustic cabin near a highway. She suffered a heart attack and couldn’t reach the phone to call for help. Her dog kept barking and the cat was nowhere to be seen, but her Piggy Sue ran through the cat door, scraping her stomach in the process and out to the highway to play "dead piggy in the road." Returning several times to check on her mistress, she then ran out to the highway again, scraping her poor tummy against the door every time. She did this until someone finally stopped and followed her back to her ailing mistress.

I love dogs and cats and this is not meant to put a damper on the fortitude and loyalty of these wonderful furry creatures. Many have demonstrated amazing valor in protecting their owners, but Piggy Sue really pushed the envelope in the courage department. She also displayed the intelligence of a showman, albeit a "one trick pony." One thing’s for sure. Pot-bellied pigs have fast become one of the most sought after pets across the United States. Their unique appearance and superior intelligence can make owning one of these critters an adventure like no other.

piggy Miniature pot-bellied pigs originated in the jungles of Vietnam and China. They were introduced as pets in the United States in 1985, when a small number of them were shipped from Canada. The first animals to arrive in America sold for as much as $25,000. Marketed as the "perfect pet," these creatures were an instant hit, selling out in more record numbers than even the Beatles’ "White Album." Buyers were told that a pig did not require a lot of room, was easier to house-train than a dog, and would stay adorable and small if kept on a strict diet. This fallacious marketing caused many owners to abandon their pets as pigs do not stay small and the average adult pot-bellied beauty weighs about 150 pounds. Every year hundreds of Pot-Bellied Pigs are "thrown away" due to unrealistic expectations based on a lack of information. Some die due to improper medication because much of the knowledge applied to treating pot-bellies comes from treating farm swine.

Scientists believe that pigs are among the most intelligent animals, ranking close behind dolphins and apes. Many animal behaviorists describe untrained pot-bellied pigs as two-year-old children. If you can live long term with the "terrible twos" or commit to spending many hours training your pig, this animal can be a great addition to the household. They are easily trained, affectionate, curious, playful, clean, generally quiet, odor free and usually non-allergenic. They can be taught almost anything, if an owner is willing to spend the time necessary to teach them. Pot-bellied pigs have been known to play the piano, ride a scooter, drive a golf cart, ride in the car as a passenger, slam dunk a basketball and more. Potty training a pig takes much less time than teaching a puppy the very same chore.

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Don't miss this excellent book:

Pot Bellies and other Miniature Pigs

by Pat Storer

Pot Bellies and other Miniature Pigs

We highly recommend this book to anyone just starting out. Lots of information in great detail for beginning pig owners. Packed full of useful information and has the cutest pictures you will ever see. All the 'pig book' you will need for a long time.

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