The promise of a 50lb pig
Submitted by OinkBox Co-Founder + COO: Juli-Anne Canterbury | A story of education, inspiration, determination, and pig parent life.
I want to share the story of Ambrosius, my pig, from a breeder. I hope this story sheds light on how misinformation and bad breeding practices impacts a pig’s health and the importance of adopting, sharing resources and education to help reduce rehoming.
Almost a decade ago, a friend sent me a picture of a baby piglet wearing rain boots. I literally squealed with awww’s of cuteness overload and asked her where she got this from. She said it was from an article about Teacup pigs. Teacup pigs? Never before had I heard of such a thing. She went on to tell me that they were miniature pigs. Well, my interest was peaked! So on my phone I started googling mini pigs and what they were all about. It was shortly after that, that I fell in love with the concept of having a mini pig as a pet. About a year later, another friend of mine sent me a picture of a little piglet that she was holding. She had gotten a mini pig! I lived vicariously through her, asking her questions weekly, trying to gather real world experience to couple my own research. My husband (then boyfriend at the time) and I started having real discussions about being pig parents. We knew the timing wasn’t right, we were trying to finish our college degrees, get stable jobs and make sure we had a place to live that could accommodate a pig’s life.
Fast forward 2 more years, we both had jobs, lived in a zoned city and had a landlord that allowed us to have a pig. With 5 years of research behind me, we narrowed our search down to 2 breeders. Yes breeders, even with doing years of research, something that never came up was the inherent need to adopt from a rescue. In fact, I didn’t even see pig rescues on the top 10 list of where to get mini pigs. Through tons of emails, phone calls and back and forth we found the person and the pig (formally known as Derek) that we were going to go with. We were told the sizing scam, how he was going to stay around 60lbs fully grown, and totally bought into it. However, to this breeders credit, she did breed mostly right. Mostly….
We put our deposit down and over several weeks we had to show proof that we were zoned to have a pig, that we had a pig vet lined up, (which she actually called and verified) that our house was pig proofed and there was a pen or space just for him. She in turn provided all the vet records, with proof of neuter and current vaccines. She provided a month’s supply of food when he arrived. She kept in contact with us through the whole process and even several months after we had him. If I had any questions at any point, I could call or text her and she would always return with info. Now, I did say mostly right though…
When we got Ambrosius he was 16 months old. He was previously adopted and then returned. He was only 9 lbs, his ears were chewed up, he was so filthy we thought he had mites or mange. His head was too big for his tiny body, he walked with his back arched and tail tucked between his legs. He was the most, pathetic, scraggliest little thing you ever saw. We knew something wasn’t right though, and took him to the vet 2 days after getting him. Turned out he was severely malnourished and developed a protein deficiency and gluten intolerance. Luckily though, he didn’t have mites or mange to add to the complications.
Over the course of 3 years, we changed his diet and food, until we found the right blend and serving amount, we spent many trips at the vet, many many many hours of training and combating extreme food aggression and behavior issues and getting Ambrosius back on track to finish growing as healthy as he could. At 4 years old, Ambrosius was still just around the 50lbs mark. Even our vet was starting to think he might actually top out around 80lbs. Hitting a late growth spurt, Ambrosius is now almost 6 years old, and about 115lbs. He is his healthiest self, despite having chronic eye drainage, extremely sensitive skin, and periodic night seizures. Our vet has told us, this is mostly due to the malnourishment he suffered early in his life, before we got him, and all we can do is help maintain and treat it daily. She has also speculated that over breeding may have caused his Epilepsy.
Even with being chewed on, starved and his ongoing health issues, Ambrosius is one of the most gentle, most loving, snuggliest pigs we’ve ever met. He loves nothing more than to just be loved (and fed). He has good days and bad days just like any other pig or human, but we work with him daily on training, combating his food insecurity and his other health issues. It’s not easy, there have been lots of tears, sleepless nights, which turned into sleepless weeks, many fights and frustrations. But through it all we could never imagine our lives without him. Through it all we could never fathom throwing in the towel and rehoming him. (Just typing this, brings tears to my eyes.) He is the reason we advocate for rescues. He is the reason why breeding needs to stop.
Though I did years of research and knew what being a pig parent was going to be like, we were thrown a curveball. Nothing prepared us for waking up to violent twitching, and pee soaked sheets because Ambrosius had a seizure. Or the 2:00am squeals that carry on for hours because he’s sooo hungry. Or the dominance he projects when he feels insecure. On the flip side, nothing is sweeter than that little pig snoot snuggled under your chin or in your lap, fully surrendered to you and all the love you give. Or those moments when they get so excited and run around barking and oinking because you just got home and they can’t wait to give you snooty kisses and their love.
Pig parenting isn’t for the faint of heart, the weak minded, or those with stability and commitment issues. Pigs are emotional, intelligent, wonderfully challenging, soulful animals who impact the lives of everyone who encounters them. Please share this post to encourage others to think twice before rehoming. To help educate people before getting a pig and the importance of adopting! I wish I would’ve known that are literally thousands of pigs (ranging in 8 weeks old to 18 years old) that need a loving home and are just waiting for their chance at finding their forever family.
We hope that by reading this, you help us spread the word about adopting/rescuing pigs before purchasing from a breeder. Over 85% of pigs will be put into a foster, shelter or a rescue waiting to be re-homed. Pigs that are ready for adoption are 100% healthy, neutered/spayed, vacinated, socialized and need to be given a second chance on life. Join us in changing the narritive surrounding pigs. In spreading educational resources, updating outdated zoning laws and shutting down bad breeding practices. Join us, get involved and learn more www.oinkboxes.com/forthepigs