'Not a normal house pet': North Saanich woman enjoys hard-earned friendship with pig
Anette never expected that she’d be going for daily walks around her neighbourhood with a pair of pups and a 300 pound pig.
“Man it’s a pig!” Anette laughs at the situation. “It’s not a normal house pet!”
Yet, after her son Kayden has been collecting plush pigs for a decade, and pushing for a real one for even longer, Anette did a lot of research, and finally welcomed home Wilbert.
“It was just like having a puppy,” Anette says, showing me videos of the piglet playing around the house. “He’s bouncing around, doing circles on the carpet.”
There were a few differences. Wilburt was potty trained, skateboard trained, and trick trained far faster than their dogs.
“It’s crazy how intelligent pigs are,” Anette says, showing me videos of the piglet opening doors and doing fist-bumps with his snout on command.
Although Kayden couldn’t have been happier with his pet, and the dogs couldn’t have been more welcoming, Anette was still hesitant about the hog in their house.
“They’re not soft and cuddly like a dog,” she says.
And when it comes to immediate, unconditional loving, they’re more like a cat.
“They’re very picky about their people,” she adds.
Sure, Wilburt would help her weed in the garden, watch TV with her daughter, and hang-out on her husband’s lap, but Anette wasn’t feeling the emotional connection she hoped for with a pet.
“But if you invest the time in them,” she recalls thinking. “Like any animal, it could work.”
So she started taking the pig for long walks with the pack, which led to long talks with Wilburt.
Anette shows me video of their exchanges. She asks questions and he answers with a series of different sounds that seem to make sense in the context of the conversation.
But after a few months of daily hours-long hikes with the hog – often to the summit of a nearby hill – Wilburt woke Anette up one morning, and started making prolonged panting noises at her.
Annette was concerned and contacted an expert.
“And she’s like, 'Oh my gosh! That’s every pig owner’s dream!'” Anette says, before breaking out into a big smile. “[She said], ‘It’s a 'hot pant.' It’s them showing their love for you!’ It was so awesome hearing that.”
It was also awesome realizing she was loving him back.
“He’s taught me a lot about the emotional connection you can have with an animal like that.”
Anette says that Wilburt now begins most days with hot pants around her, and she feels grateful every day for her family's decision to adopt the pig.
“I’ve seen him bring a lot of joy to people,” Anette says, as a group of fellow walkers pat and take pictures of Wilburt – the pig’s tail wagging enthusiastically like a dog. “And he’s certainly done that for our family.”
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