Real Rescue News

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THE STORY OF BETSY THE PIG – from Chris – from the Archives Aug 2009

I have not mentioned the pigs and goats much at the sanctuary.  They come from all animal shelters in the area. Found on the street or left at abandoned homes after their people moved out… things like that. Sometimes we have to go to the abandoned barn or house and try to catch them. We have had to invent techniques for this. We have about 22 pigs there and 3 goats and one barbado sheep; we have placed 5 pigs in the last seven years and about 4 goats. In placing these animals, one really has to feel comfortable that they are going to be pets and not passed along through the food chain or sold at public livestock auctions after being used to clear brush as far as the goats are concerned.

Betsy is our largest white pig although she came to us as our smallest pig. Pot bellied pigs are white or white/black or black usually. We have a couple of golden brown ones but people tell us that is a sure sign of another type pig being involved. Betsy was left in a nurse’s front yard in a small basket as a baby. She had a note with her that said, “Please take care of Clementine for us. We had to move and could not take her, and we thought you would be the best place. She is very sweet and cuddly.” The nurse was an animal person, but she did not know how to care for a baby pig or have a place for her. When she called, I wanted to encourage her to keep her as a house pet, but when there is reluctance on the other side in regard to trying something new, well, it is not something to push when it comes to animals. So we took her in as one of our pot bellied pigs. And in a very short time, she was the largest pig we had… almost doubling the size of our other pot bellied pigs. Someone saw her at the farm, and said, ‘That’s no pot bellied pig… had to have some Hampshire in her.’

So little Clementine became big Betsy like sweet Betsy from Pike who crossed the wide prairies with her husband Ike…

She is sweet. They were right about that, and although she doubles the size of most of the pigs, everyone, even the smallest pot bellied pig, pushes her around. Why is that, I wonder. It may simply be the fact that she is different. She did not grow up with siblings either fighting for a place. But I wonder if there is a pecking order having to do with smell that says… hey… you are not really one of us, and I do not care how big you are… so go to the back of the line. At any rate, she does not fight it, but obeys the internal pecking order.

Now this presents a little quandry for me at feeding time. I call the goats in… the real pigs of the bunch, to lock them in the carport area so they will not eat all the pigs’ food. I then go to the pig pans one by one. Betsy is always bumped pan to pan until we are out of pans. I continue my route and call Tilly, Elmo and Pepper to the bottom lot to feed these 3 older pigs separately, and they come running even if they have a pig pan and are eating away with the other pigs. They leave the food. They like to be fed separately in their very own area. They bump each other around but they are small bumps with only three pigs and close by pans to contend with. And when I give the bread over the fence, they have all they can eat down there.

Well Betsy has caught on. Yes, that is a good deal she sees and wants in on it. But I am reluctant to let her in on the deal. She is young and big, and does not seem to fit in with the three old pigs either. I am concerned she would eat most all of it. She has done that when the gate was not closed tight, and she snuck in after me. I block her at the gate, and tell her no. She looks at me and slowly turns around. She looks back, and I shake my head, and she trots off quickly trying to find a pan before it is all gone. It took me a while to learn how verbal pigs are. Almost more than dogs and cats, they respond to oral statements. This makes them easy to work with. Otherwise size would prohibit turning her around. Betsy asks me every day, and I say no, and she turns around. I will have to figure out something special for her. But I also think. Every day it is something new, and with every group of animals I approach there is a world of life and interaction taking place which we only get a glimpse of as we pass by. At a time when I used to eat my bacon and rush to work, I am now trying to figure out how to help Betsy. ” ~Chris