Posted on Oct 25, 2018
By Ellie Laks, Founder of The Gentle Barn
This month marks the eighteenth anniversary of our potbellied pig, Truffles. We brought her home when Jay was just a new volunteer, and it was the first rescue that we did together as friends before we fell in love. Truffles was a tiny piglet at a pumpkin patch, delighting children and adults alike. But when the pumpkin patch closed down the day after Halloween, Truffles was left behind, alone, amid the rotting pumpkins and trash blowing around in the wind. Thankfully we found her and brought her home to our warm and loving barnyard to become a permanent member of our family.
Truffles was scared of us at first and had an itchy and painful mange on her whole body. But after a few weeks of great vet care, fresh food, soft straw bedding, other animals for company, and lots of tummy rubs, Truffles recovered and made herself at home. We had a large farm pig at the time named Susie Q who fell in love with Truffles right away and claimed her as her own. Susie Q protected Truffles, kept her company during the day, and at night allowed Truffles to sleep on her soft, warm belly. Truffles regarded Susie Q as her mom until she passed away of old age many years later.
If anyone tried to bully Truffles, Susie Q would rush in aggressively to defend her. It was made very clear that no one was to mess with Truffles, ever! One lazy afternoon, while all the animals were taking their mid-morning naps, our twelve-hundred-pound pig, Duncan was bored and went looking for something to do. He started nosing at Truffles who lay asleep a few feet from Susie Q. The minute Truffles started squealing, Susie Q woke up from a dead sleep, jumped to her feet, ran over to Duncan, shoved him away from Truffles into the barn, pushed him into the corner, and yelled in his face for ten minutes. For the rest of his life, Duncan would not even look in the direction of Truffles and left her completely alone.
Over the last eighteen years, Truffles has grown from a tiny piglet to our matriarch piggy. Because she was so loved, she has paid it forward by welcoming in many new pigs to our barnyard, befriended them, and snuggled up close to each of them for warmth. She has always been kind and gentle to our staff, volunteers, and guests. She is wise, generous, and affectionate. She will roll over for tummy rubs so we can rub her wrinkly, wonderfully squishy belly, or she will allow us to stroke her face and rub behind her ears. She has been a delight to love, to know, and to tuck into bed each night, warm, safe, and treasured.
Potbellied pigs typically live to about fifteen years old. But with lots of organic fruits and veggies for nutrition, Sun Chlorella Algae Super Food to boost her immune system, and much love, Truffles has made it to eighteen. She is slowing down now, and it is getting harder and harder for her to stand or walk. To keep Truffles mobile and comfortable we’ve been giving her acupuncture and massage therapy each week. She absolutely loves her treatments, and grunts thank you’s each time. She still has a good appetite, but there are some mornings where we hand feed her to make it easier for her to eat all her breakfast. We don’t know how long Truffles will stay healthy and mobile, or when the time will come to let her go, but each day is a celebration that she is still in our company.
To heal Truffle’s trauma of being used by a pumpkin patch and then thrown away, we have made Truffles the queen of Halloween. Each October we get to celebrate her and our love for her. And there are never any tricks, it is just treats, treats, treats! Please come visit her, rub her belly, wish her happy birthday, and make her feel special. Let’s love her as much as we can, for as long as we can!