Wednesday, October 27, 2010

My Tribute to Amos the Wonder Pig

Amos the Wonder Pig has died.

And a little bit of me has died with him.

Anyone who does not have a pet pig may find my reaction to the news of his death as over-reaction, but I can't account for the disconnect that non-pig people may feel. That's out of my control. All I know is how empty I feel right now because I will never again enjoy his many talents and his perennial smile. I'm sitting here writing this tribute to Amos, tears running down my face, because, though he wasn't my own pot-bellied pig, I always felt, in some strange way, that he was mine; he and I had "talked" numerous times, and I felt privileged that he let me shae his company on occasion. He had pigsonality beyond any of my own fourteen pigs, even my own Lowell.

During many fall open houses at Susan and Richard Magidson's Ross Mill Farm, Jeannie Watson and her husband, Geoff, brought Amos, along with his brother, Pilot, and sister, Frosty, to the festivities. Amos entertained us all, just as he had on many occasions and for many years--we pig enthusiasts. After the contests were over and Amos had walked away with his share of the blue ribbons, I sat beside him, petting him and rubbing his belly--telling him how marvelous and talented he was. He could do all kinds of things, usually only attributed to one of the human species: toss a kiddie basketball through its hoop; act the magician by pulling a bouquet of flowers from a hat (to the "ooing" and "aahing" of the spectators). But his most incredible talent was his ability to spell.

Yes, Amos could, indeed, spell people's names. Jeannie taught Amos to spell when he was much younger. She showed him large flashcards with letters, and he associated the sound of the letter with the shape put before him. His ability to spell any name was fascinating--almost unbelievable--and one could only believe it after having witnessed it in person.

I remember the first time I met Amos at one of those parties. Amos' human dad and he came dressed alike--both wearing a candy-striped T-shirt, both wearing a red whirly-bird cap--one of those with a propeller on top (see the photo with this post). When I saw these two together, side by side, I laughed so hard I almost peed myself. In his happy garb Amos participated in all the games: snagging the pretzel on a string; winning the watermelon-eating contest; and bobbing for apples.

Amos the Wonder Pig wasn't just locally known. He was known all over New York and much of the East Coast. He had even appeared as a guest on one of the late night talk shows. I'm not sure if it was Johnny Carson or not, but it was a big-name show similar to Carson's. There, he bowled the audience over with his spelling ability and other talents.

Amos was a ham in the best sense of the word: he had a gift for entertaining, for making people laugh, for promoting pigs as not just animals to be eaten but as intelligent, sensitive beings who have much more to offer the world than existing to be food. Amos, the spokespig for pigs worldwide, spread the word that a pig can be so much more than pork on a fork. He spread the word to many, many people and children who watched him perform that a pet pig is intelligent, grateful, loyal and entirely capable of loving and being loved by his human companions. Thank you, Amos, for restoring pigs' reputation to what it should be, rather than to what most people think.

My deepest condolences go out to the Watsons, Pilot, and Frosty, for they have lost their dear friend and family member And my condolences to those of you who had never met or seen this incredible pig, whether on TV or in person.

My Amos. I will never forget you. I will never forget your happy smile.


  1. Condolences on the passing of Amos...he sounds like quite the pig!

  2. Thank you Gay for this tribute to our sweet Amos . I am one of his human Aunts. We did many trips together to the State Fairs and nursing homes in PA and NJ along with my own pigs Reggie and Pepper. We competed in the ring for the best trick and the best costume as well as many other things. Amos has always been one of the most loving pigs in pigdom. He will be remembered for his part in bring the public something wonderful to talk about after his show. Somehow he was always 1 step ahead of my girl Reggie with his amazing tricks and he kept the bar high for all the other pigs to shoot for. I too am sitting here crying for Amos and his family Jeannie Geoff, Frosty and Piolet. I also cry for me who will never be able to see him and give him belly rubs on this earthly plane again. He was a great ambasider for pigs everywhere. RIP my dear sweet boy you will be missed more than you will ever know.

  3. aww he is now a piggy angel entertaining in heaven...RIP Amos

  4. Tribute to my Best Friend:
    “Amos The Wonder Pig” has left this world, and left a very large hole in my life. But Amos leaves this world a better place for having been in it. Amos’s legacy is written in the thousands upon thousands of smiles that he has left in his wake. Amos had made his sole purpose in life making people happy. No one every referred to Amos as a “Pig”, just Amos. Entertainer extraordinaire, bringer of laughter and the pied piper of smiles. Weather it was at a Children’s shelters or Schools, Nursing homes, Country fairs or Street fairs, expo’s, at the farms in both PA and NJ or just in the yard with some of the local kids. It might have been his antics dunking basketballs, playing his piano, spelling their names with his flash cards or just one the myriad of funny costumes from his extensive wardrobe, he always left them smiling. Amos took his final bow and exited the stage of life with more grace and dignity that any human has ever done. He now crosses that Rainbow bridge to catch up to his parents, Maggie and Codey, friends Thelma, Casper, Manny and more who have gone before him. In a place I always believe should have always existed for such noble animals, where there are not fences, harnesses or leashes, Just sun shine and endless clover fields, where there is nothing that they need to do except be pigs to forever roam at will. Someday I will catch up with Amos in the clover field where once again we can sit in the grass and enjoy one another’s company. Farwell my best friend, I will always love you, for you are tattooed on my heart. I was very lucky that you selected me as your human companion.

  5. What a beautiful,loving tribute to Amos, Geoffrey. I'm crying once again.

    Friends, you have to know that if I am again brought to tears by the death of Amos the Wonder Pig, then you really know how special he was, for I had met him maybe about five times. But each time Amos and I met we "talked," both of us smiling, me rubbing his belly, he with his grinning snout in the air. Between us there were two intelligent beings that shared a connection. Not one was superior to the other; Amos was my equal.
    This animal, much like Reggie, Becky DiNolfi's pig, one I wrote about in my ms. THE CELEBRATED PIG: HOW AMERICANS MEMORIALIZE THEIR ANIMAL FRIENDS, just made such an impression on people that it is almost indescrible and unbelievable. My heart is with Amos and Geoffrey and Jeannie. I know just how tough and miserable it is to lose a family member like Amos. It's the worst feeling in the world.

  6. Jeannie Watson - MommyOctober 30, 2010 at 8:50 AM

    Cheerios for Amos, with love from Mom:

    Getting a pig was all Geoff’s idea. I thought this would be a nice “yard pet” who might sleep in the greenhouse in winter. When we went to Ross Mill Farm, Susan opened a pen and we were at once swarmed by young pigs. I found myself sitting on the dirt floor of the old barn, instantly loving something I never expected to love. A pig put her head in my lap, and I knew my pet would never spend a night alone outdoors. We chose our little boy. He already knew how to sit for a piece of apple. I remember that Susan hugged me and cried as we put him in the truck. She told me later that she cried because although we had just met she felt we had made a very special match with that baby pig. It was May 1st 1994, May Day, and oh yes that boy was the King of May. We took him home and loved him so; very soon he learned to jump on our bed and spent every night with us until he got too big to jump that high. At that point we brought home his little sister Frosty April and they bonded for life.

    A friend from the Delaware Valley Pot bellied Pig Club taught me target training and encouraged me to teach him letters on flashcards. It was something new and Geoff and I were the third set of pig parents to try it. Amos’s first trick was ‘circle’; he followed my hand target around in a circle and received a Cheerio as reward. It took only 10 minutes; I was hooked. This was best game ever. I rushed home each night from work to teach Amos. Now came the ABC’s. I showed him cards with A and B on them, doing repetitions, while he walked forward to touch a chosen card with his soft nose. At first the results were random, 50/50; I kept count on paper. After two weeks of repetitions his score shot up from 50% to 98% in one session. I remember the moment he “got it”; I saw a spark in his eye and that was the beginning of the magic. He learned the rest of the alphabet within another two weeks. He worked hard at every new trick, loving to learn, and all he needed as reward was praise and Cheerios.

    That first summer Susan suggested we enter the Sussex County Fair with the pig club. She said “he’ll love it!” Was she ever right! Over the years that we showed our pigs, Amos relished every moment and was a fierce competitor. He won Best Trick over and over and held the title of Apple Bobbing champ for years. He loved wearing his costumes. We went on to work in pig rescue where Amos did indeed serve as an ambassador representing the best in pet pigs and showing the world what a companion pig is. He accompanied us to countless demonstrations and fundraisers, and to one-on-one interviews with potential pig parents. He was responsible for many adoptions.

    When Amos was learning to play basketball he would practice on his own, until he learned to aim accurately, and when he felt like amusing himself he would play his own tunes on his toy piano for 20 minutes at a time, even with no one in the room to watch. He just loved doing it. But best of all he loved applause; oh did that make his tail wag. He traveled long hours by car, van, ferry boat, and even stretch limo to do his show at fairs, circuses, and even on TV. At home he was hard to keep up with, opening doors and cabinets, zippers and locks, exploring all the time. He opened the refrigerator so often we had to lock that too. He once removed a container of Chinese take-out, carrying it on his nose by the handle, and sought out his daddy with it. We were never sure whetehr he wanted to share it or he just wanted help getting the lid off.

    I could write many pages about our baby and maybe eventually I will. There are so many stories to tell. For now I have to admit that I cry every day but know that he is well and happy at the Rainbow Bridge, a young pig once more. I like to think that he has found his great friend Tucker and that they are up there together, performing for everyone. For them that surely is heaven. Back here at home, I am still finding Cheerios in the pockets of my jackets :-)

  7. Amos has been a wonderful member of our family and we will all miss him so much. He brought a smile to so many people. He always seemed to get a chuckle of his own by making everyone happy. All those wonderful tricks he could do! And so very intelligent! He did it all for one Cheerio at a time. I swear he only took that Cheerio to be polite - I think he just got a kick out of doing his tricks and making all of us smile. It's been a blessing and a privilege to know Amos and, despite my tears, I still find myself immediately smiling when I think of him. Thank you, Amos for being such a special friend to so many of us all. And thank you, Amos for taking such good care of Jeannie and Geoff and Frosty, Pilot and Oscar for all these years :)