Published in the Rains County Leader on August 1, 2017:
I met a new friend this week. Becky owns a one-operator beauty salon outside of town, and she is very popular at the Senior Center for her Senior Thursday haircuts. She’s also very interesting to talk to.
While she was working on my unruly curls, she mentioned that her son might be going to college on a scholarship, that is, if he agreed to continue training pigs for the show ring. Training pigs? I knew that pot bellied pigs could be domesticated and even trained to use a litter box, but I had trouble imagining them jumping hurdles in an agility ring or responding to commands in an obedience ring.
Becky went on to explain that the training is mostly a matter of socializing the animals, playing a radio in their barn and playing with them from the beginning so that being around people is a normal experience for them. One day she found her son in the pen with a new litter, sitting on the fence with his legs stretched out and his feet resting on a bucket. When she asked what he was doing, he explained that he was teaching the piglets to hold their heads up. It seems the little porkers are very curious, sniffing anything within reach. The whole litter was under his legs, stretching their little snouts into the air to see if there was anything tasty waiting for them. His method was working, and that’s a good thing, because it also seems that walking into the show ring with ones nose on the ground is considered bad form.
Then, she told me that pigs can be stubborn. I found that less difficult to believe than the training part. She told a story about a pig they had who was acting up “back stage” while they waited for their turn in the ring. They tried everything they could think of, but nothing worked until she asked the pig if it wanted to take a bath. It trotted right over to her and followed her into the washing pen. Who knew some pigs prefer being clean instead of following the stereotype of wallowing in the mud! After a good scrubbing in the cool water, the stubborn pig settled right down and behaved as it had been taught.
This particular pig was fond of water in general. The barn where it lived with its friends and family had a concrete floor. This water lover would take a mouthful of water, spit it on the floor, and then repeat this cycle until the wet spot was big enough. Then, it would lie down on the cool spot.
That’s about all I learned, and now I’m not sure how to bring all of this to a close. This is one of those articles that doesn’t really have a big punch line or even much of a point. It’s just that once in a while I need to remind my readers that I am, after all, still a city girl.