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Smell the Coffee: Being disgrunted

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- I wanted him from the instant we met. Yes, he was younger, and yes, he belonged to another -- a friend of mine, no less -- but Aimee had barely left his sight before he was nuzzling my neck. And I was calculating how I could make him my own.

His name was Pedro, and I took him home with me. Introduced him to my daughter. She fell in love with him too. Maybe fell even harder than me.

Animal magnetism is a powerful beast. And Pedro the Pocket Pig had apparently wallowed in charm.

I'd not even known such things as pocket pigs existed until a few months back, when a friend started talking about them. Curious, I did a quick bit of research, decided they were cute -- and then promptly forgot all about them until my farmer friend, Aimee Neeley Figgatt, asked if I'd like to watch 3-month-old Pedro while she was tied up at a craft show.

Pocket pigs are a fraction of the size of standard farm pigs, and are far smaller than the once-trendy potbellied pigs, which can grow as large as 200 pounds. Even so, the "pocket" or "teacup" name is a misnomer, as when these are full grown, they're generally about the size of a cocker spaniel. Some can be as small as 12 pounds, though most are in the 25- to 50-pound range.

According to a number of pig enthusiast websites, mini pigs are low maintenance, extraordinarily intelligent and require about the same amount of daily care as a dog. Their lifespan averages between 15 and 20 years.

Best of all, it only takes a matter of days before these little pigs can be house- or litter-trained. To this end, Pedro excelled. His mastery was such that even if he'd never nuzzled my neck with that great rubbery snout of his, I'd still have fallen for him based on how polite he was about bathroom matters.

Basically, when Pedro needed to go, he would totter over to the door (sounding like a tiny woman in heels) and let out a wee squeal. Once outside, it only took moments from the time Pedro's feet touched the grass before he was efficiently taking care of business. There was no half-hour of sniffing that my dogs require before finding a tree they deem suitable for watering.

And then there was the snuggling. Pedro was a master snuggler, flopping himself over the shoulder like a baby needing burped. Once comfortable, it seemed to take no time before he was dozing.

We couldn't resist taking Pedro to my parents' house and to visit a few friends, then made a quick stop at Lowe's, where we wrapped the pig in a blanket and carried him like a baby -- a disguise that worked well until he started grunting.

All who saw him fell instantly in love. If we didn't have so many animals already, I'd be piglet shopping myself. Still, from what I've read, there are a large number of disreputable breeders out there who misrepresent ordinary potbellied pigs as being miniature, causing many people to end up with a pet that grows far larger than they can manage.

Also, because pigs can breed before they're finished growing, seeing the pig's parents isn't always an accurate indicator of how large your piglet will eventually become. They generally don't reach their full size until they are 2 to 3 years old.

But Pedro -- he was perfect.

The perfect boar.

Reach Karin Fuller via email at karinfuller@gmail.com.


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