Sheryl, my trusty friend and supporter of all things piggish, has a penchant for lost and neglected pot-bellied pigs--as do I. If there is a pig nearby who needs help in the form of transport to a pig sanctuary, being rescued from a neglectful home, or protecting a pig in an abusive situation, Sheryl comes forward to help.
Such was the case when, through the grapevine, she learned, some five or six years ago, that a family was just "sick and tired" of their pet pig, and if someone didn't adopt him, he would be put to sleep.
Some people, especially ones that aren't too bright, adopt these pigs with only their one weak brain cell in gear. "Oh, boy!" they believe, "How cool to get a pig. I'll do it!" That's as far as they can reason. They do no research and fling themselves headlong into porcine ownership, not prepared for the consequences: that a pet who is smarter than its owner can easily control people and can rule the home; that a smart pet does not bolster a stupid person's sense of self-esteem; that the more intelligent pig will manipulate the human to its existential needs and drive the human to furious frustration. Despite the difference in intelligence, drive, and motivation, eventually the pig will lose--he or she, at the hands of the imbecile, will become grossly overweight, crippled, or blind; he or she will end up in a shelter, or he or she may be abused because the human possesses no insight to train and respect the instincts of a pet pig. Though a normally intelligent person enjoys the company of a pet whose smarts allow the two to "converse" and spend mutually beneficial time together, a pet pig in the company of a dolt always spells "DISASTER" for the pig.
So, one winter day Sheryl asked me to go along to rescue and possibly adopt this young yearling pig whose owners couldn't control him. We stepped into the house, and it was clear that we were dealing with a mother and older son who shared at least two flacid brain cells. After getting a few nebulous answers to some very important questions about his age, behavior, and breeding, Sheryl looked at me. This pig, Harley, was in a no-win situation; he needed a worthy home. So, Sheryl offered to give him the home every pig deserves.
On the way to her house, the pint-sized Harley sat in my lap in the passenger seat of the SUV. He was such a small, young pig--about as big as a wooden magazine rack. He wasn't a baby--more of a pre-teen. As Sheryl drove, I cradled Harley in my arms and assured him he would have an excellent home. He stared, looking out, his snout up against the window, and enjoyed the car ride and the snow-covered trees and sounds of traffic. When we stopped to turn left at a traffic light, another car pulled up on our right. Though our windows were closed, Harley and I both happened to look over just as the other driver looked at us. Meeting the gaze of a pig, the woman did a double-take. Her flabbergasted expression said, "What! A pig in a car! Sitting on a woman's lap!" The woman's mouth gaped in a wide grin; she turned to her passenger; and the other woman leaned forward to check out the spectacle. The light changed, and the three of us turned, Sheryl and I laughing at the confounded driver we left behind.
So, Harley came to Sheryl's home where he became one of a family of two other pigs: Porkchop and Forrest. The three tolerated each other initially and then became on and off friends and rivals in a relationship that always remained a power struggle. As do horses, cats, fish, and many other species, animals work out a pecking order amongst themselves. Harley, being the newcomer, was relegated to "underpig" and quickly learned to acquiesce to the other two. Lucky for him, Sheryl privileged all three pigs equally--no one was more loved or valued than the other.
Harley delighted in his new indoor home. In fact, since he was the "low" pig in the herd, Sheryl gave him his own room so that he wouldn't be picked on when she wasn't home. At night after she came home from work, the three pigs ate from their separate dishes, each sitting next to the other as they received their favorite treat of the day: a cream-filled Vienna Finger.
For the next five years, Harley, Porkchop, and Forrest were true "bros". On crispy mornings after breakfast, they burst through the doggie door into the backyard--always in search of a tasty morsel hiding in the grass. Each evening after dinner and the cookie, Porkchop and Forrest claimed the sofa and chair while Harley cuddled up with Sheryl on the living room floor to watch TV. He lay down beside her leaning his heft into her, the two--human and pig-- stretched out on the carpet. Porkchop and Forrest "owned" the furniture, but once in awhile when the others were outside, Shery called him to join her in the overstuffed sofa where he soaked up a long belly rub.
Yesterday, after eating breakfast, Harley died suddenly. Though Edgar was rushing to try to save him, it was too late. He died far too young, but he died, comforted, in Sheryl's arms.
We buried Harley here at our farm alongside our own pigs: Lucille, Miss Piggy, Sniffer, Arnold, and Ashley.
Harley rests in peace in our pasture of dreams.