California Potbellied Pig Association, Inc
Living, Loving and Losing
By Marcie Christensen
As I lay on the floor with Arrrj, the last of our potbellied pigs, I am inspired to write this article. Many people feel that just because we chose not to have human children that we anthropomorphize our pets. I’m not sure that Chris and I do. But we do consider our potbellied pigs, ALL six of them who have lived in our home with us over the years, as very close family members. You expect to outlive your animals, you should. But it still hurts when you lose them.
Since we purchased our first pig, TS Piggliot, in 1990, we have personally rescued and adopted five more, over the years. Each was uniquely different from the next. The “proper pig”, Riff, the “laid back dude” Chuckles, the nasty dude, George, the badly and inhumanely treated, Standlee and our last pig, again, a neglected pig, Arrrj. Each so uniquely different, and I wouldn’t want it any other way. TS and George were aggressive and not very nice pigs, but they taught us a lot. TS put us on the mission of rescue and education. Without him, I’m not sure the others would have ever followed. TS taught us so much about living with a pig.
We lost TS in 1995, George in 2006 and Chuckles in 2008. Each taking a tiny piece of our hearts with them, but would we do it again. YOU BET! In a heartbeat! Riff taught us total unconditional love and trust. He WAS a proper pig, with a birth defect called Spina Bifida. UC Davis didn’t think he would live more than a few years. He lived with us for 18 years and had to be around 20 years of age at the time of his death. He taught us so much. He left us with a huge hole in our hearts on 1/30/12. But what a wonderful rich life we have because of him. We outlived him as we were supposed too. Standlee followed Riff on 3/21/12. He was going to be buried alive in 1998. His siblings were killed that way. Standlee had nightmares for most of his life. He would not allow us to pet him much. But he was the gentlest of pigs, and we loved him very much and will always miss him. Riff was Standlee’s stabilizer. Once Riff left, Standlee was ready to go. He was about 18 to 20 years of age at the time of his death. We miss his silly smile, but we outlived him as we were supposed too.
With Arrrj, we were not ready for the diagnosis of Squamous cell carcinoma on 3/29/12. We thought he had some bad teeth that needed pulling. But when you rescue animals you take that unconditional love for as long as you can get it. He was starved to ribs and bones when he came to live with us in October of 2010. Even though he was about 15 years of age when he joined our family, we honestly felt he would be with us for many, many years. We now wait and make him as comfortable as we can.
Since 1994 we have always had at least two, up to four, potbellied pigs living in the house as family members. Now, April of 2012, we have one for as long as we are lucky enough to have him. We will probably also outlive him, as we are supposed too.
Will another pig or two come to live with us you might ask? Yes, I’m sure they will. They will call to us as all the others have. Calling saying they need a new forever home. We will be very lucky when they make that call or send that email. For now we wait…
Arrrg came to us from animal control as a confiscation from what had been for many years a wonderful home, but divorce, substance abuse, legal problems, etc. bought him to us. We named him for the sound he made as he ran through the house. It takes pigs a year or two to really fit into a new environment, and Arrrg was just working his way into our hearts when his cancer struck. Arrrg left us in June 2012, longer than the doctors had predicted but much too soon. The cancer had spread quickly. Of course a month before Arrrg died another pig did call to us. Mason came to us in May 2012 followed in Feb 2014 by Brix. The house once again reverberates with the sounds of tables being overturned, blankets ripping, important papers being eaten and mostly laughter. I have come to believe that in order to successfully share your life with a pig, you've GOT to have a sense of humor.
Mason and Brix are busy writing their own stories, and entertaining stories they are. If you see the animated Disney movie "Moana", listen to the voice of her pet pig "Pua", you'll be listening to the voices of Mason and Brix.
Pigs are extremely sociable, enjoying good company,
even if it belongs to another species.