The annual Fete for the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals was bound to attract the presence of my daughter Alexandra and her friends. The lack of the ‘R’ indicating Royal support is deliberate as this event did not occur in England, but in the Republic of South Africa. Like most other branches of this noble cause, this one was chronically short of funds and constantly overwhelmed by the number of cases of animals to be rescued from the wild and from so called pet lovers.
Wandering around the stalls, buying tickets for raffles, watching the events, Alexandra bought strings of tickets from various people offering different prizes. Rather as I would have done, she might not even have looked at the prizes offered, but just tucked them into her pocket. In the past I have found tickets maybe months later, which I couldn’t remember having bought, and as no one had ever rung me to say that I had won a prize, I have no expectations of ever winning anything in the future, and I think my daughter has the same feelings about them.
Defeatist attitudes can be overcome though, and on this occasion after an enjoyable day out followed by a meal with a few drinks with friends, she went on to enjoy a good night’s sleep. One can only imagine her emotions when the telephone rang the following morning.
“Good morning. Miss Morton?”
“My name is Martin Leonard, and I’m the Manager at the SPCA. Do you have ticket number DD695?”
“Oh! Just wait a moment please; I think the tickets are still in my jacket pocket. No, here they are, sorry they are all screwed up in the waste paper basket. I have never won anything before.” Excitement had taken over straight thought. “Yes, here it is, DD695.”
“Congratulations Madame, you are now the owner of one of the baby pigs. Could you please accept delivery of it today?”
“How wonderful, we saw them, they’re so gorgeous.” My daughter has more love for animals than thought of the future problems they can cause.
“Do you have suitable housing for the animal?”
“Yes, yes, we have a good sized plot and a strong shed which will be ideal.”
“I will bring him before lunchtime, and I must make an inspection to make sure that he will be looked after.”
The only pets Alexandra had previously known were dogs, all rescue dogs from one or other SPCA kennel, mostly of the type that worked hard at being pleasing lovable pets and their affections had been equally returned to them by us. One of the things that increased her desire for the pig was that her father had always had a weakness for them when we visited farms, and had always said that when he had to retire, he would like to have a pig farm, or at least have a couple of pigs in the back garden. Anything father said was of course almost gospel to an only and much adored daughter, and I do feel that her father’s spirit was probably smiling down on her at that moment!
However, the SPCA man brought the small creature along that afternoon and saw that indeed there was sufficient space and suitable accommodation for it, and the five dogs already installed were not going to be a problem for it.
For the first few days in the new surroundings, Piglet ran happily with the dogs who accepted it with no problems. After a very few days, maybe due to the dogs training, it was also housetrained. Piglet continued to grow. I have forgotten to mention that Piglet was a Burmese Pot Bellied Pig.
Not only was Piglet a Burmese Pot Bellied Pig, but it was also a very fast growing Burmese Pot Bellied Pig in a now seemingly quite small plot with five dogs, a parrot, a cockatoo and a goldfish which had gone silver with age, and conditions were rapidly getting out of hand, especially the garden which was Chris’s (my daughter’s friend) pride and joy.
Sadly it was decided the last come first to go, but happily, having nice friends was always a bonus in my daughter’s life and now Dane and Bea came to mind.
Dane and Bea had grown up together and both had experienced unsatisfactory marital relationships, both had married and both had found the state unsatisfactory. Now they shared a small holding and had their horses and a lovely farm house with more outside buildings than they used.
Horses had been a passion with both as long as they could remember, and Bea’s cooking added to the joys of any visit to their home.
“Of course we have lots of room for your pig Alexandra” said Bea, “we would love to have him and he won’t bother the horses. There is plenty of room in the paddocks. He can live in the big barn we only have my sister’s furniture stored in there, and that can be put into one corner; it will be gone as soon as she gets her house finished. No trouble at all, we will be happy to have him, bring him down as soon as you like.”
Fortunately one of their friends had a station wagon big enough to transport Piglet in comfort and safety, and Piglet went to his new home.
Dane and Bea were a couple of romantics and had named their property Camelot. I never discovered why they called their home Camelot, but is was beautifully furnished, and their welcome for visitors warm and welcoming.
I had never seen Piglet when he was living with my daughter, so had the pleasure of meeting Dane and Bea and Piglet at the same time. Piglet, now renamed Hamlet, presumably to go with Camelot, was wandering around indoors, (Persian carpets not withstanding), scratching his rump against the corners of the rooms, snuffling round hoping to find scraps on the floor maybe, but he would be unlucky in that house.
Carpets had remained unsoiled, curtains un-shredded and no fleas or ticks brought in, and no smell. Hamlet had actually proved to be an ideal house pet except for his size. This was particularly obvious when sitting at table, Hamlet, passing behind my chair tipped it and me forwards, almost pushing me onto the table.
So Hamlet grew and appeared to be very happy in his new surroundings; plenty of food, a choice of paddocks in which he could socialise with the dogs and horses, human contact in the house when he wanted it, and his barn for privacy, warmth in winter and shelter from the sun.
An unexpected orphaned new born lamb came to be cared for because of a family emergency on the adjoining property and Bea had promised to keep an eye on it.
“It can share Hamlet’s barn. It will be company for him, I’m sure they will get on well together.” The lamb was not allowed into the house, and looked understandably hurt when the lower part of the stable type door was closed with Hamlet on the other side of it.
Lamb Chop grew quite quickly as most animals seem to do, and one day Bea and Dane went into the barn to find things changed around. Hamlet’s corner with its usual allotment of clean straw was now fenced off with pieces of Di’s, Bea’s sister’s furniture. Obviously selected pieces had been chosen, and Hamlet had manoeuvred them into a fence around his property effectively denying access to the now bigger Lamb Chop.
Although the straw was changed frequently, and there had never been any unpleasant smells, one pile of straw had been pushed to one side of the barn, and that did smell. Hamlet obviously disgusted that such a grown up animal still soiled its nest. Lamb Chop was standing outside this barrier looking bewildered, and Hamlet lolled uncaring inside. Installed as the Lord of the Manor!
I had always been told that pigs were among the cleanest of animals. If only humans could be trained as well.
Pigs are sociable animals, and obviously Hamlet was not intending to socialise with a mere sheep, so after a few telephone calls around the area, Hamlet was finally introduced to a lady Pot Bellied Pig, named Guinevere, and as they bonded immediately, Hamlet moved to her house, and they are living happily and cleanly together.
© 2016 Yeadon Writers
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