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.