Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Saga of This Pig a Good Lesson

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

The Saga of This Pig a Good Lesson

Article excerpt

There were visitors in the living room, and the 45-pound pig was eager to meet and greet them.

"Watch this," said Pete Finelli, standing at the foot of the stairs. "It's like prom night watching Doc come down."

Although Doc is 5 months old, he only recently learned how to go up and down the stairs that used to frighten him. His straight, skinny tail wagged as he carefully placed one cloven (split) hoof on the first carpeted step and then the other.

The tail wagged faster with each step until Doc triumphantly arrived at the bottom and trotted up to a reporter and photographer. He was happy to be petted and rubbed.

Doc seemed to be entranced by the camera and soon was stretching and preening in front of the photographer.

"I've never seen him do that before," said Heather Long with a chuckle.

She's a professional pet sitter, dog walker and trainer who has fostered the pig for the past two months and plans to adopt him.

Doc never fails to surprise and enchant her. "It's a constant learning curve for me because I've never had a pig before."

Doc is high-energy and requires a lot of time, attention and training, including teaching him not to "charge at" and chase her dogs, rescued pit bulls named Candy, 5, Diamond, 9, and NeNe, 6.

The dogs never fight back, seemingly content to let Doc be the boss.

The moral of this story is that pet pigs are not for everyone, which is how Doc ended up at the Animal Rescue League Shelter and Wildlife Center.

A little girl had fallen in love with the piggies she saw in books and movies, so her indulgent parents bought her one. Have you ever seen a very young piglet? They are one of the cutest baby animals in the world, but by the time Doc was 3 months old his family didn't want him anymore.

The shelter in Larimer gets three or four pigs each year, said executive director Dan Rossi. That's not a lot of unwanted pigs, but the bad news is not many people are looking to adopt one.

Ms. Long has fostered dogs for the Animal Rescue League "and I've always wanted a pig," so she agreed to foster Doc with some advice from shelter staff, books and websites.

Doc is 45 pounds and he's not done growing. He's a miniature pot- bellied pig, and some of them grow up to weigh 300 pounds.

He's still very cute. His skin is pink and covered with a thick layer of coarse bristles - white and gray with black spots. His snout and ears are pink. He makes eye contact with people and makes funny little snorting noises when he's happy, such as when you pet him or give him treats. His favorite treats are bananas and Cheerios.

Ms. Long, whose business is Au Purr LLC, uses food to train him, much the way she trains her sweet, well-behaved dogs. When she says "Sit!" all four butts hit the ground. …

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