April 15th, 2017
This seemingly innocent request from my 7 year old daughter felt simple enough. We had recently purchased a bonified pig harness online and the weather was actually decent enough to coax Elly out of the house long enough to take a jaunt down the street. The issue was my naïve assumption that the pigs first walk would be simple. Walking a pig is actually nothing like walking a dog! Especially walking a pig for the very first time! I discovered this phenomena the first time we tried crossing the street together. While we live on a residential street, being in the city there is a good amount of traffic! People speed up to the stop signs, barely stopping before they race on in a hurry. Some days it seems like everyone is in a big hurry. So when Elly decided to stop dead in her tracks in the middle of the cross walk I gave her a firm tug trying to force her to finish crossing.
Elly bore down into the ground, started backing up with feverish intensity all while SCREAMING at the top of her lungs. If you have never heard a pig scream it is LOUD!!! I found myself literally wanting to melt into the asphalt at this point but I continued grabbing for the PO’d porcine with absolutely no luck!! I started waving apologetically at the line of cars that had now piled up at the stop sign, holding my breath waiting for someone to start blaring their horn at me to get myself AND my CRAZY pig out of the street. But much to my surprise, the lady in the first car stepped out of her drivers side to start recording the whole ordeal on her phone! She was laughing hysterically. The people behind her seemed amused as well. Thank god because I don’t think this could get much more embarrassing. I finally get a hold of Elly and by this point she is squealing her most boisterous, obnoxious barnyard squeal and people in the surrounding houses start bolting out of their front doors to see what all of the commotion is about. I finally catch the slippery pig and haul her out of the street all while yelling an apology to everyone congregating that “we are fine and VERY sorry” and that “our pig was just scared.” Nothing to see here anymore people. Please go back in your cars and houses and let me die of embarrassment alone!
Take-Away 1 – Never tug on the pig.
Once we got the hang of how to motivate Elly to follow us around the neighborhood and make haste across the street (i.e. Cheerios in a Ziploc bag) walking the porker became more enjoyable for everyone. The only issue is that you never actually make it anywhere. We live in a dense, Chicago neighborhood and EVERYONE wants to meet the pig! I realized quickly that you can’t take your pig for a walk feeling anti-social. Almost every person you run into wants to pet the pig. Kids, grown ups, elderly people, pretty much everyone starts squealing and bombards you with their excitement. The little ones are the best! Kids think she is Peppa pig. One little boy asked me how long it took me to walk to the city from my farm! They gingerly touch her snout, feed her Cheerios, and ask about a hundred questions! Teenagers are amused as well. They are as excited as the kids, holding up their i-phones and recording Elly’s antics as a simultaneous pack. But Elly’s visitors do not stop with folks on foot, people in their cars are amused as well! We have experienced people hanging out their windows recording Elly on their phones, shouting to us about how cool they find our pig, and many pulling over piling out of their cars to say hello! In some ways I have enjoyed the attention. Living in a time and place where people often don’t bother to get to know each other, Elly has introduced us to more neighbors in the past month then we met the last 5 years. Its honest, good old fashioned conversation. With name exchanges, and chatter about which block everyone lives on, and all of the typical porcine questionings. Some from the elderly generation very matter of fact question in broken English when we will “eat the pig” while their kids shush them with “MOM.. NO!! and apologize profusely. I find it amusing and an indication of a change in times. One enthusiastic woman today was running down the street proclaiming that she “loved my pork” while her son stifled his laughter requesting she call our pet “PIG” not “PORK.!!” I laughed and told her I understood.
Take-Away 2 – Pigs bring communities together
Never walk a pig planning on getting anywhere. I once saw a meme online stating that walking a pig is like flying a retarded kite. Kite’s actually get somewhere though, so I’m not sure that the correlation is accurate! Aside from stopping and talking to people every few feet, pigs literally move at their own pace. When Elly decides to run, the whole herd runs. When Elly decides to stop, we all stop. Today we decided to walk for ice cream. It took 2 hours. The ice cream place is a 15 minute walk at best. At one point Elly flopped over in a muddy ditch to rest. She found a dead bird, an apple core someone threw out, a banana peel, about 50 new friends, plastic wrappers, a beer can, a VERY interesting plant, about 25 more friends… (you get the picture). After trying multiple times to speed things up by getting the stubborn porcine to ride pleasurably in our wagon we gave up. Daddy got left with Elly on a corner a few blocks from home and the child and I went the rest of the way to pick up the ice cream sans pig. The plan was for the husband and the pig to work their way towards us after the split. We found them in the exact same spot 15 minutes later! Traffic had stopped, cars had unloaded, and people were making friends with the pig that had flopped over in a bed of landscaping. It took luring the porker with frozen yogurt and fruit to get her back home.
Take-Away 3 – Never take your pig anywhere in a hurry!