An open letter to our pig sitter…

For the last official week of summer vacation we decided to take a quick family vacation up to the Wisconsin Dells. And while we assumed our pet pig Elly would enjoy the eateries of cheese country we sided with our better judgement that pigs and water slides do not mix and opted for pleading with a close family friend to “pig sit” in our absence. But this would not be the usual drop in animal care of feeding, watering, and walking. We needed a full-fledged porcine housemate. Fortunately for us, we had a long-term family friend willing to take on the challenge of caring for our portly porker.

The night before leaving town the husband mentioned to me that perhaps we should “write things out” detailing the daily care of Elly. I agreed. And the most hysterical list of piggy care emerged.

Hello! And thank you SO MUCH for caring for Elly while we are gone. While she is a loving, intelligent, passionate animal she has a few nuances we want to forewarn you about!

1. Elly has a biological timer that erupts at exactly 6am every day. It does not matter if this is a day you plan to wake up at 6am. The pig will spring to her feet and barrel across the house honking at the top of her lungs! She wants food. If you try to ignore her and lock her out of your room she will head-butt your door until you wake up. Sorry in advance. She is quite pleasant after she has been fed. 

2. You will need to take Elly potty in the morning. She will use her ramp out the back door to get into the backyard. Sometimes she does not want to go out to potty, so just grab a cucumber from the fridge and she will follow you out into the backyard. Just make sure you give her the cucumber. Because it will turn into a battle of the wills if you want her to relieve herself before eating.

3. Pigs are herd animals and can be territorial about their homes and favorite spaces (i.e. the kitchen). You will notice there is a large framed photo of the pig on our kitchen wall. That is because she actually owns and operates this particular room of the house. To earn the respect of the pig you will need to ask her to “earn” her food. You can do this byrequesting she spin for you, sit, or she can high-five. Only feed her after she performs. This will help you earn the respect of the pig.

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4. Elly likes to snuggle on the couch at night. But she has gotten a bit portly for jumping up onto it without help. If you find her pacing next to the sofa letting out an intermittent and disgruntled (GRRRUUUNNNTTTT) that means she needs help. Simply lift the pigs front hooves onto the sofa and then situate yourself behind her rump and firmly push up until she climbs her way onto a cushion. Once on the couch she likes her head situated under a pillow and her belly scratched. She also likes to spoon, but I don’t think you’re in that level of a relationship with her yet. 

5. There is beer in the fridge. Please drink it. Drink all of it if you need to. 

6. If for any reason the pig escapes the back yard and is refusing to come home, simply stand outside with a can of oats and shake it vigorously. The pig will always come home for oats. She can hear this sound a full city block away. 

7. You will find that Elly tips her water dish over many, many times a day. This is normal and she will especially make a point to tip it over any time you have just mopped and cleaned the floor. Unfortunately this is completely normal and pigs need fresh water, so go ahead and refill the bowl so that she can tip it over again later! Just keep a lot of towels handy for future spills. You will use a LOT of towels. 

Thank you SO MUCH for taking care of our sweet Elly! If you need anything at all let us know!!

Day 1:

The family – “How’s it going with the pig?”

The pig sitter – “Oh it’s going… ok I think. She keeps trying to push me out the door when I come home! She literally takes her snout and forcibly shoves me backwards out the door. I kind of think she does not want me here.”

The family – “She will come around! Keep making her spin for you and give her lots of treats.”

Day 2:

The family – “How’s it going today? Any better?

Pig sitter – “She wont spin.. or sit.. or do anything for me. She just mows me down and steals my food! I think she has eaten everything in the house. I am going to give her some space.”

The family – “Did you find the beer?”

Day 3:

The family – “Hey there how is it going?? Our daughter wants to face-time with the pig. Can we figure out a time for that?”

Pig sitter – “Umm sure we can try that. Right now Elly is guarding the stairs. I am in the basement and she has taken post at the top of the stairs so I can’t come up. Its kind of like we are married. She is sleeping upstairs and I am sleeping downstairs.

The family – (we check our security camera, the pig is in fact angrily pacing back and forth at the top of the stairs). “Oh my!! We are so sorry! Try going up the outside stairs…”

Pig Sitter – “I did.. and then she runs over and pushes me out the door.”

The final day:

The Family – “Hi good morning!!! We cant wait to see everyone later today!”

Pig Sitter – “Oh yes.. me too! Elly seems to have finally made marginal peace with me. Of course that finally happens now that your coming home.”

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We arrive home later that day. We excitedly prepare to embrace our porcine companion as we burst through the front door. Elly, on the other hand, is ticked that we vacationed without her. She barks at us, turns her back towards us and STOMPS away. No happy pig greetings, no tail wags, no wet snout kisses, just flat-out contempt. It took a solid day for our piggy friend to come around, and luckily we still have the friend that pig sat for us as well.

Now onto planning our next trip.. anyone know of any pig friendly family vacation destinations!?!?

 

5 thoughts on “An open letter to our pig sitter…

  1. I never knew I loved pigs until I became a vegan! This was really fun to read. As for the reference to cheese: as people who have opened their hearts to one kind of farmed animal, I hope you will also open your hearts to dairy cows and their calves. The dairy industry is full of appalling misery, cruelty, pain, and deprivation – this is true for “humane” dairies as well. Please consider leaving cow’s milk, cheese, yogurt, and ice cream off your dining table. If you miss the taste, there are fabulous nondairy, plant-based versions of all of these. Thanks for reading this.

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  2. This great and spot on! Our family lives outside of St. Louis with our one-year-old pig named Iggy. She is so territorial of her home. Iggy tries to bully everyone that comes over and if she sees the slightest bit of fear she has a hay-day. We are planning another trip and are desperate to find a sitter that will tolerate such behavior. Maybe I need to start a new business specializing in pig sitting. There doesn’t seem to be one that I can find in the mid-west. Thanks for the laugh and reminding me that my family is not alone.

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