UN­CON­VEN­TIONAL PETS Pen pals

Pet pigs are pop­u­lar with Colch­ester County res­i­dents – but know what you’re get­ting into

Truro Daily News - - FRONT PAGE - BY LYNN CURWIN

A num­ber of peo­ple have found a pig to be the per­fect house pet. That said, there are things to know be­fore you bring one home your­self.

It took Cor­rina Cormier 15 years to con­vince her hus­band that hav­ing a pig in the house was a good idea.

Tia, the pot-bel­lied pig, has now been part of their fam­ily for seven years and they think she’s a great pet.

“I love her; she keeps life in­ter­est­ing,” said Cormier, who lives in Bel­mont. “She’s very a ec­tion­ate. She rubs her head up and down my legs and she greets me when I come in.

“She rings a bell when she needs to go out, or when she thinks it’s sup­per time.”

Tia came from the Yar­mouth area, where a man was breed­ing pigs as house pets.

“A lot of peo­ple ex­pect to have a pig that’s 20 to 30 pounds, but Tia’s a nor­mal size, and she weighs about 85 pounds. She’s not big, just heavy.”

Tia has her own crate, with a tough mat­tress made es­pe­cially for her, and the door al­ways re­mains open.

“Her hair’s too prickly to have her in the bed, but she does have her own couch,” said Cormier.

Tia en­joys go­ing for walks, and the rst few times she was out she sur­prised quite a few peo­ple. Although she does quite a bit of squeal­ing when she’s be­ing helped into the car, she does en­joy a drive.

She gets along well with Buddy, the 15-year-old minia­ture Pin­scher in the home, and Freck­les, a tabby kit­ten who will of­ten hop on her back – some­times run­ning across her back to make a leap onto the kitchen counter.

When Tia was young, child­proof latches had to be in­stalled to keep her out of cup­boards, but now she rarely opens them.

“If she does, I tell her to get out and she slams the door closed,” said Cormier. “To keep her busy, I got her toys she’d have to work at to get the treats out, but she did it quickly. She’s very clever. Most pigs, when they get in trou­ble it’s be­cause they’re bored.”

Stewiacke- area res­i­dent Vanessa Richard­son has been sur­prised by a few things she’s ex­pe­ri­enced with Peggy, a pot-bel­lied pig who is now two years old and about the same size as Tia.

“I thought it would be more like rais­ing a dog, but the way she thinks is di er­ent,” said Richard­son. “She has more fear, so I have to show her new things very care­fully. When I’m go­ing to take her in the car I talk about the car and put her har­ness on rst, to let her Peggy (also seen snug­gled down, above) doesn’t mind be­ing out­doors when it’s warm. The two-year-old pot-bel­lied pig is a house pet in the Stewiacke area. pre­pare men­tally.”

Like Tia, Peggy is very vo­cal when get­ting into the car, but quickly set­tles down and en­joys the drive.

“She’s snug­gly and likes to be cov­ered with a blan­ket,” said Richard­son. “She hates the cold and makes quick trips when she goes out to use the wash­room in the win­ter.

“Some­times she gets into things. She knocks over the garbage to get our at­ten­tion, and it’s hard not to re­act.

“She’s re­ally part of the fam­ily now. She gets along with the dogs and cats, and I love her per­son­al­ity.”

Peggy isn’t fond of walk­ing much but Ge­orge, a nine-mon­thold Viet­namese pot-bel­lied pigJu­lian mix, en­joys get­ting out when it’s not too cold.

“He walks on a har­ness and leash but likes to stop and check out things that are ed­i­ble, so it can be a slow walk,” said Chelsea Sul­li­van, who is tem­po­rar­ily car­ing for the 35-pound piglet at her Nut­tby Moun­tain home.

“I wanted a pet pig for a while, so I o ered to care for him while his owner was away. He was crate trained and house trained when he got here, but he’s like a tod­dler and gets into things He’ll fol­low you around like a dog, but he’s also stub­born.”

Ge­orge gets along well with the three young chil­dren in the house, and with the dogs. ere are Berk­shire pigs on the farm, but he’s only seen them from a dis­tance.

Along with a spe­cial pig food, Ge­orge gets treats like veg­eta­bles, fruit and rice cakes – and cleans up crumbs from what­ever the chil­dren are eat­ing.

Je Hig­gins, who owns Ge­orge, is cur­rently work­ing in Daw­son City.

“He’s a lit­tle cud­dle mon­ster, and I miss him, but I didn’t think this would be a good place for him,” he said. “There are dogs run­ning wild here and I was afraid they might at­tack him if we were out walk­ing.”

Ge­orge quickly learned to sit and to go up on his haunches.

“He’s very, very smart and he’s very food mo­ti­vated,” said Hig­gins. “If he gets bored he’ll get into trou­ble.”

Ge­orge, like other pigs, can suf­fer from dry skin, so co­conut oil is rubbed into his body.

Hig­gins will be back in Nova Sco­tia, and re­u­nited with Ge­orge, later this year.

e thing all of those who share their homes with pigs, stress is the im­por­tance of do­ing re­search.

“ ey’re cute but they re­ally are a lot of work,” said Richard­son. “Some­times peo­ple think they’re get­ting a small pig, but it ends up be­ing a large pig. I’ve heard some hor­ror sto­ries.

Some­times peo­ple aren’t pre­pared for what’s in­volved, but if they are, they can have a great pet.”

LYNN CURWIN/TRURO NEWS

Five-year-old Tea­gan Sul­li­van en­joys feed­ing Ge­orge treats. Ge­orge is a pet pig who is stay­ing Nut­tby Moun­tain while his owner is work­ing in the Yukon.

LYNN CURWIN/TRURO NEWS

Cor­rina Cormier en­joys shar­ing her home with Tia, a pet pig. Tia gets along well with the dog and cat in the home.

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO

Freck­les, the kit­ten, of­ten hops up on Tia’s back. Buddy, the minia­ture pin­scher, prefers to re­main on the oor.

CON­TRIB­UTED PHOTO

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