Yup. We now have 7 cats, 3.5 dogs (Liam is only five pounds) … and a PIG! His name is Norton. We adopted him on June 9th of this year when he was eight weeks old.
This was Norton days after we got him:
Our friend was at a county fair in Maryland and he called Roger to tell him that they had piglets for sale: $60 each or 2/$100. Roger told him he’d call him back, then my 52 yr. old boyfriend came running into the house yelling; “Baby…can we get a pig?!”
I stood there with my jaw hanging open trying to find the word ‘No’… but it came out as ‘where would we put a pig?’ Roger squealed, ‘I’ll build a pigpen!’ and he ran back out and called his friend back and told him that I said yes!
Meanwhile, I still stood dumbfounded in the kitchen trying to recall exactly when I said ‘yes’! Roger came back into the house grinning from ear-to-ear and started pacing back and forth while filling me in on the details about our new bundle of joy which would be here in about an hour! An hour or so later… our adventure began…
He was terrified, so we put him in a crate in the living room with food, water, and a blanket… ya know, all of life’s necessities. Roger was eager to hold him but I said to let him calm down for tonight except for taking him out to go potty every couple of hours. I was NOT gonna have a piggy litter box in the house!
We carried him out and set him down in the cat yard to go potty, and that was when we realized how fast piglets can run. I can’t even imagine trying to catch a greased one! Thank god for fencing! I went rummaging through my vast array of pet supplies and dug out an old cat harness to put on him so we would at least have something to grab!
Pigs love to snuggle but they don’t like to be squeezed or picked up, in fact, they hate it! … Now, for those of you that have never heard a piglet scream, let me tell ya… it is blood-curdling! All of the neighbors within a 50-yard radius knew when it was Norton’s potty time LOL!
Getting that harness on and off of him was a challenge so I decided to just leave it on him. He eventually got used to it even when we had to ‘upgrade’ it as he grew. Now he sports a fancy purple one and he does great on a leash. We’ve even taken him for short walks haha!
Having never owned a pig, this was certainly a learning experience. But far be it from me to run from a challenge! I did some research online…and luckily there is a family down the street that has a pet pig. Yup, his name is Pig and he is five years old haha!
Pig’s mom was very helpful because it seemed like every page I found online said something different. She gave me pointers on diet, hooves, neutering, tusks…all the fundamentals to get us started.
Now as far as neutering, everything I was reading said to get it done as soon as possible, which is what I wanted to do because I can attest that an unneutered male piglet STINKS!!! No really, Norton smelled awful! Their hormones…OMG, pungent! The problem was, that every vet I called that will neuter a pig said they have to be at least four months old. Ughh!
My Mom has a friend that used to be a pig farmer and they said that they could do it for us. At first, it seemed like a great idea, I mean, farmers have been neutering their own pigs for centuries, right? But the more I thought about it, the more I couldn’t stand the thought of my little piggy screaming in pain while two strangers…
I called the vet I used to work for and made an appointment for Norton to have a checkup prior to his surgery a month later. Now, not to brag or anything…but every gal in that vet’s office fell instantly in love with my Norton! He is quite a ladies man! Ahem, sorry… I’m a proud Piggy Mama! Where was I? Oh yes, the doctor examined him and once she felt how ‘developed’ he was back there, she agreed that he was definitely ready to be neutered. She had one slot open a few days later so we jumped on it! The smell would be gone soon…could I get an ‘Amen’?!
Now don’t get me wrong, or get grossed out or anything. Pigs are actually very clean animals. People ask me all the time ‘how can you have a pig in your house?’ Honestly, other than the hormone smell, which is gone now, he doesn’t make a big mess at all. The dogs and cats shed more than him, and we keep a washrag by the door to wipe off his snout when he comes in from rooting haha! I trained him to use the dog door so he goes outside to potty too. That’s it!
Pigs are the fifth smartest animal in the world, so training them is really quite easy. Sure, I may look like a genius pig-trainer in the video, but really he had been watching the dogs use the dog door for weeks. In the week leading up to the great success, I could see him watching every time they would run out to bark at something…almost like he was studying how the dog door works. He had started jumping up at the glass (you saw him do it in the video) when he had to go potty, so I just helped him put two and two together!
Now, because pigs are so smart, they get bored. A bored pig = mischief! As long as Norton can be outside to root, he is generally happy. Unfortunately, he was born in one of the rainiest years on record… pigs HATE rain. Seriously, to a pig, rain is like acid on their delicate skin haha!
Every time it rained…which has been about every other day… he would get into trouble in the house or just walk around squealing and complaining. I once again went rummaging through the pet supplies and came out with some old treat dispensing toys. Norton’s favorite treats are Cheerios and mini marshmallows. I filled a treat toy with some Cheerios and set it on the floor. Problem solved! …for about five minutes.
Now he has his own Boredom Basket, blankets for indoor rooting, and his very own bed!
Rain also posed another challenge on our piggy journey. Going potty. As I mentioned earlier, I refuse to have a piggy litter box in the house. Norton was doing great at using the dog door and going potty outside. Then suddenly I started finding accidents… floods, in the house! Norton didn’t want to go out to potty if it was raining so he was finding corners inside to tinkle in.
To make matters worse, we noticed that he was sucking down a whole bowl of water when he ate! … More online research… I actually found a page that described where someone else had had the exact same issue with their pig and I learned that it is just a habit they develop and to just limit his water intake.
It took some trial and error, and I admit there were a few times when I thought about making bacon, but I refused to be outsmarted by a pig! I finally found solutions:
Norton now has his own canopied potty area with a canopy right by the door as well just to get him out there when it is raining. We leash him up and make a run for it from canopy 1 to canopy 2! We put the dogs’ water bowl up on a short stool just out of Norton’s reach and he has his own water supply on his crate, which he doesn’t even need to be locked in anymore.
If you are still reading this you’re probably thinking I have lost my marbles…and you may be right! Pigs come with certain challenges that are not the conventional puppy or kitten challenges. They are very intelligent, demanding, stubborn (pig-headed), and whiney even. When asked why he does certain things I find myself repeating the same sentence of explanation: “because he’s a pig.”
Unfortunately, every solution to a piggy problem makes him seem like the most spoiled pig in the world! Although, if I had to guess… I’d say that there are other pig parents out there that can concur that they are worth it!
Has he been a challenge? Yes. Did I ever have second thoughts? Yes.
But I can tell you this much… Norton has brought us more laughter than any other pet (we don’t tell the others that!) and it didn’t take us long to fall completely in love with him. All of his antics, some more challenging than others, have taught us about patience and diligence. And maybe, just maybe, we are better people because of a pig.
So has it all been worth it? Definitely!