It seems so ridiculous crying over a pig. But he was my Pig Pig, my little Kevin Bacon. I’d wanted a pig my entire life and finally, at 29, I got my pig. I had to drive four hours to pick him up with my sick daughter in the backseat, and miserable the whole time. She had to miss a day of school, but it was early in the year and she would have been home sick anyways, so off we went.
He wasn’t initially the pig that I had imagined; I had always thought I’d have a pink pig, or one with spots. Instead, he was black from his nose to his tail, but as soon as I saw his face I knew that he was the one for us. He was a Juliana pig, which is the closest thing you’ll find to a “mini” or “teacup” pig. They don’t stay tiny forever, we were told he would end up being roughly the size of a bulldog but considerably heavier—70lbs is the average. I felt so horrible taking him from his siblings but I just knew that he would be so loved in our home. So I wrapped him in a black, grey, and white striped towel, laid him on the passenger seat of my Escape—seat heater on, of course—and started the four-hour drive home.
No amount of research can prepare you for owning a pig, and it turns out that no pet store can find you a harness that will fit their weird little neckless bodies either. They are constantly ravenous, and will eat anything—but you must be very cognisant of what they eat or it can make them sick. They are incredibly intelligent, but also the most stubborn creature I have come across. Temper tantrums consist of a weird scream that cannot be described with words, along with stamping of hooves and a quickly swishing tail. They’re lazy—good lord, are they lazy—and they are snuggle monsters. In fact, if you denied him snuggles, he’d stick out his bottom lip to pout as he screamed and carried on until either he was exhausted and crawled into his den of blankets, or one of us gave in and snuggled him.
I’d heard too many horror stories of mouldy feed pellets, so I spoke with vets to figure out what a healthy, homemade slop would be made of, and then made it for him fresh every month. We bought him fresh veggies, making him a colourful and nutritious salad each night. Most days he would honk and dance with happiness when his trough—a glass Pyrex loaf dish—showed up in his pen. He would eat anything except jalapeño peppers, but spinach and red peppers were his very favourite, along with Cheerios of course.
He was not one of those pigs that you see in viral videos—he didn’t run in circles, tap dance on the tiles, or play with our dog. No, Kevin’s very favourite thing was napping in a giant pile of blankets. He would venture out from time to time to snuggle us or check to see if we were eating anything, but then he would burrow his way back into the pile that consisted of my pink crocheted blanket and his black Star Wars blanket.
Kevin hated baths more than anything, but if you gave him spinach or cheerios he would at least stop splashing the water everywhere. He loved to burrow his head into your armpit, and he would literally fall over sideways for belly rubs.
He was a bundle of contradictions, being both wonderful and awful at the same time, but he was the exact puzzle piece that had been missing from our family. Unfortunately, life only gave us eight months with our little pig pig, because on the afternoon of April 11 he passed peacefully in his sleep, most likely of heart failure.
As a parent, regardless of whether they are human or animal, nothing can fill the hole of losing a child. I’ve lost many pets before—hamsters and birds and fish and cats and dogs—but somehow losing Kevin feels so, so much worse. Maybe it was because his intelligence and personality made him feel more like a toddler than a pet, or maybe it was because he was taken from us so suddenly and in a way that we could never have known or prevented.
And now I’m an absolute mess with mascara tear stains on my cheeks and puffy red eyes. My heart aches for my little pig pig, and I'm still not used to the lack of honking and screaming and snuggling. Wherever you are, Kevin, I really hope they have an unlimited supply of Cheerios and spinach for you, and I hope there is always someone for you to snuggle.
I love you, my little piggy boy, and I always will.