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Mini Pig Oscar’s First Out-of-State Trip and Car Sickness

Oscar recently reached a new milestone by going on his first out-of-state trip! Although Oscar has gone on several car trips with us, this was his first longer trip out of state. I wrote a previous post about how Oscar likes to ride in the car with us to visit his grandparents who live in state, which is about a three-hour trip. For those trips, Oscar has always done well traveling and either naps in someone’s lap or sits quietly in his booster seat (affiliate) for the entire trip.

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Over Memorial Day, we decided to visit Oscar’s grandparents who live out of state. The car trip is about six hours, and it’s the longest trip Oscar has been on so far. Since Oscar has always done well in the car, we didn’t think much of it and packed the car up like usual. We put Rylee in her booster seat and put Oscar on a blanket in the passenger’s lap. We started out on our trip, and Oscar quickly fell asleep in my lap like he normally does.

We were a little over three hours into our trip, and Oscar slept the entire time except for a few minutes when he woke up to oink adorably at the toll booth attendant. Then, all of a sudden, Oscar woke up and started to smack his mouth repeatedly. My husband and I thought Oscar might be thirsty and it was also close to his dinner time, so we started looking for a good place to stop. Oscar kept smacking, and then I felt his body shift and knew immediately something was wrong. Seconds later, Oscar started throwing up and we found a place to stop as quickly as possible to get Oscar some water and fresh air.

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Oscar enjoying his trip once he made it to grandma and grandpa’s house.

We pulled off the highway and into a gas station to figure out our next move. I panicked for a while about something being really wrong with Oscar before realizing that he was likely just car sick. Once I calmed down, we focused on getting everything cleaned up. I went into the gas station bathroom to get paper towels, but the dispenser was empty. I considered explaining to the employee that we had a sick pig in the car and needed some supplies when I saw a janitor’s cart out in the open and decided to quickly raid it for paper towels and trash bags instead. Back at the car, we cleaned things up as best we could, got Oscar settled, and headed out again.

About 15 minutes later, Oscar started smacking again, and we knew we needed to pull over. At least this time we were prepared and had a trash bag with us, but Oscar threw up two more times at that stop. We needed more supplies, so this time I spotted a Petsmart and went in to stock up again. We set back out on our trip, and after two more episodes along the way, we finally made it to grandma and grandpa’s house.

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Oscar hanging out on the deck during his vacation.

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I was relieved to have arrived, but I was also worried about keeping Oscar hydrated. He didn’t want to drink for a while after we arrived, but he started drinking normally the next morning and seemed to be back to his spunky self. My next concern was that we had to turn around in two days and make the same trip back, so we needed to see if there was a better way to get Oscar home. Oscar’s grandma knew a veterinarian in the area, so she contacted him to get some advice for mini pig car sickness. The vet told us that pigs commonly get car sick and recommended holding off on food and water before the trip and putting Oscar in his crate instead of on a lap.

During our actual visit, we had a great time. Oscar loved the sunny deck looking out onto the lake. He was really well behaved and spent most of his time resting and napping while everyone petted him and scratched his belly. He was back to eating and drinking normally after the rough car ride there, and he got plenty of grapes and other fruits for snacks, which he loved.

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Oscar eagerly anticipating his next grape.

When it was time to return home, we left early in the morning since we planned on not giving Oscar food or water until we were back home. We figured he would scream and throw a fit without his breakfast, but he handled it surprisingly well. He gave us some angry grunts at first, but he calmed down and napped once we were on the road. This time we put his crate in the back seat with his blanket inside and let him ride in there to reduce the risk of car sickness. We also stopped every few hours so that he could get his hooves on the ground and enjoy some fresh air. He didn’t throw up at all on the way back! We fed him and gave him water as soon as we arrived home, and he was a happy pig again.

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Oscar getting head scratches from his grandma.

Now that we know Oscar gets car sick, we will prepare for trips differently, especially longer ones. Although we prefer Oscar riding in a lap, he did well in his crate on the way back. So, for longer trips, we will likely have him ride that way and avoid food and water before the trip, when possible, so that he doesn’t have as much moving around in his belly. We also need to plan more stops so that he can get out and get some fresh air. For supplies, I now keep trash bags and towels in the car so that we are always prepared just in case.

Hopefully Oscar continues to do well on shorter trips since we really enjoy letting him ride around with us in town. We’ll likely avoid longer trips with him in the future since they make him not feel well, but we’ll also know how to prepare when we need to take him with us. If nothing else, it was a trip we’ll remember for quite a while!

Yawning from his nap on the deck.
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Rylee enjoying some relaxation time on vacation.


6 Things to Try When Your Mini Pig is in a Funk

Sometimes Oscar gets in a funk. When Oscar is in a funk, he goes from being a sweet, loving mini pig to grumpy and moody almost overnight. He can be a happy, content pig for months and then have a few days or weeks when he’s just not pleasant to be around. Sometimes he’s just fussy and oinks and squeals more than usual, but other times he gets snippy. He doesn’t like to be bothered and starts whipping his head and air biting all of a sudden. Since the behavior change seems to happen out of nowhere, it can be frustrating and a difficult challenge to solve.

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When Oscar is in a funk, getting him outside to explore often improves his behavior.

We have dealt with several of Oscar’s behavior changes since we brought him home. Although I never enjoy his funks, they are a good opportunity for me to stop and check to make sure I’m not overlooking something. Oftentimes, I’ve slipped in keeping up with his training or behavior work, and other times I haven’t been spending enough time with him or giving him enough opportunities to root and stay stimulated. Of course, if your pig has a behavioral change, it’s also good to make sure your pig isn’t hurting or sick, so make sure to check that off the list first by checking with your veterinarian. 

When Oscar is in a funk, here is a list of the six questions I ask myself to make sure I’m not missing something important that might make him happier and more content.

1. Am I keeping up with Move the Pig? We have struggled with Oscar’s aggression tendencies, so we use Move the Pig to deal with his biting and head swiping. When we are using Move the Pig regularly, Oscar’s behavior improves. However, it’s very important to keep up with Move the Pig and to use it on a regular basis. I usually try to do Move the Pig a few times each day since it’s quick and easy now that I have a system down. Sometimes though, life gets busy and I don’t realize that I haven’t been using Move the Pig. When that happens, Oscar can slip back into his old tendencies of challenging me for hierarchy and the nipping starts back up. This is always a good reminder for me to get back on track with Move the Pig because it’s important to keep Oscar’s aggression under control. This is the first question I ask myself when Oscar gets in a funk.

2. Is Oscar getting enough food? Since Oscar is still young and growing, I use his behavior changes as opportunities to make sure I’m feeding him enough. This is usually a pretty simple thing to check off my list since he would never let us forget to feed him, but I do stop to check that I am feeding him the correct amounts and that he’s getting the nutrition he needs. As he grows and gains weight, it’s important that I keep increasing his food rather than just continuing to feed him the amount he was eating at a lower weight. So, when Oscar is in a funk, I stop and make sure I’m feeding him sufficient and appropriate amounts so that he’s a happy and healthy pig.

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When the weather is nice, Oscar can get outside to explore and to eat grass, keeping him both happy and full.

3. Am I keeping up with Oscar’s training? I train Oscar because it’s fun and stimulating for him. He loves the opportunity to earn treats! I normally train Oscar once or twice a day in really short sessions, and he loves training time. As soon as I get out the clicker and the treats, Oscar is excited and ready to learn or perform his tricks. Sometimes I teach him new tricks and other times I just have him practice ones he already knows. Either way, he seems to enjoy the stimulation that training provides, and it’s something fun we can do together. I also love that training requires him to listen to me and practice some basic obedience. When Oscar is in a funk, I check to make sure I haven’t slacked on his training sessions because he really enjoys that time.

4. Is Oscar getting enough rooting time? Pigs love to root. It’s a natural behavior that is important for them to stay happy. When the weather is warm, Oscar usually gets plenty of rooting time. In the winter though, making sure Oscar gets enough rooting time is challenging. I take advantage of any decent weather days and get Oscar outside to root, even if it means putting his coat on. An indoor alternative is a rooting box or ball pit. Oscar has a ball pit that he really enjoys, so I put some treats or even entire pellet meals in his ball pit when he’s bored and let him root around for a while. I’ve found that rooting makes a huge difference in Oscar’s behavior and attitude, so I always make sure to check that he’s getting enough rooting time when he’s in a funk.

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Oscar loves rooting! It’s an easy way for him to stay stimulated.

5. Is Oscar getting enough stimulation and play? Oscar doesn’t really like toys, so making sure he has enough stimulation and play time is tough. Unlike with my dog, I can’t just throw a ball or give Oscar a toy to chew or play with on his own. This means that sometimes I get busy and forget to make sure Oscar is getting the stimulation he needs to be a happy, non-destructive pig. Of course, Oscar is only interested in food-related toys, so I have to be careful about how many treats he’s getting while he’s playing. My go-to toy for Oscar is his IQ treat ball because he loves it, it keeps him busy, and I can put his meal pellets or treats in it. So, when he’s in a funk, I put some of his food or treats in his food ball and he’s much happier after getting to chase the ball around.

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Here Oscar stopped for a nap in the grass after a day of rooting and playing outside. When Oscar has had plenty of stimulation, he’s happy, worn out, and less likely to be destructive.

6. Is Oscar getting enough cuddle time? Oscar loves to cuddle, and it’s a great way for me to get some quality time with him. Normally Oscar gets tons of cuddle time, mainly because we love cuddle time with him too and look forward to it in the evenings. If we’ve missed cuddle time for a few nights though, Oscar starts to get really fussy. So, I make sure to stop and save him some cuddle time even when life gets busy.

When Oscar gets in a funk, those are the questions I ask to check and make sure Oscar is getting everything he needs to be a happy, healthy pig. I try to keep up with these things on a regular basis, but sometimes life just gets hectic and it’s easy to forget. So, while I don’t love when Oscar is not his happy, content self, I have learned to appreciate his funks as a time to check and make sure I’m not forgetting something he needs.

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Happy Mother’s Day from Mini Pig Oscar!

Oscar would like to wish all moms out there a very happy Mother’s Day! Oscar is especially grateful for his grandmas who love visiting and who make sure he never runs out of Cheerios and blueberries. Oscar is lucky to have the best grandmas a pig could ask for!

Oscar, Rylee, and family also send a very special Mother’s Day wish to those pig parents out there holding their ears through the squealing, chasing toddler pigs around to make sure they’re safe, and filling countless treat balls in an attempt to keep their pigs happy and entertained. We wish you a day filled with pig cuddles, snout kisses, and all the things that make pig parenting worth it.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Times When I Wish I Didn’t Own a Mini Pig

Like many things in life, owning a mini pig comes with tradeoffs. There are things I love about owning a mini pig, and things that are more challenging. I wish I could tell you that I love owning a mini pig every second of every day, but that’s just not true. I love Oscar and wouldn’t trade him for the world but, now that we are settled into life with a mini pig, I am very aware of the tradeoffs we make to own Oscar. To be completely honest, I have moments when I think about how much easier things would be without owning a mini pig.

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I want to share the moments I have when I wish I didn’t own a mini pig because I think it’s important to be honest about mini pig ownership. It’s easy to share the happy, cute, and exciting moments of life with a mini pig. We have tons of wonderful moments with Oscar. He’s adorable, curious, cuddly, and funny, and I adore all of those qualities in him. He’s also loud, stubborn, needy, and moody. I spend a lot of time on the blog showing happy pictures and discussing positive moments because they are fun and accurate, but I also want to make sure I’m representing the tough side of owning a mini pig because some days are really frustrating.

Here are the moments when I wish I didn’t own a mini pig:

1. When I want to travel. Finding a pet sitter for a mini pig is difficult. Some people have family and friends who are happy to watch their mini pig while they travel, and that can help in this area. However, I haven’t yet been able to leave Oscar since we brought him home. Not many people have been around mini pigs long enough to know what they need, what they should avoid, or signs and symptoms that something is wrong. Also, Oscar loves routine, and I worry that he won’t handle being away from home or on a different schedule well. Sure, I’m a little overprotective, but it can be difficult finding someone you trust to watch your pig while you travel. If we can take a car, we take Oscar with us. However, there are several places I would like to see and even family I would love to visit that I’ve put off because I don’t want to leave Oscar, because I can’t take him there with me, and because it’s too far to travel by car. At the end of the day, I’m okay with this tradeoff because we didn’t travel much before getting Oscar, but I miss the flexibility of being able to just go somewhere without worrying about a mini pig. There are ways to travel with a mini pig, but those also require some consideration and tradeoffs that are worth considering if traveling is really important to you.

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Oscar riding in the car.

2. When I need peace and quiet. Although Oscar is quieter now than he used to be, mini pigs are noisy pets. When Oscar was a baby, peace and quiet was hard to come by. He squealed a lot and oinked loudly while just wandering around the house. Even though I get more peace these days, it’s not guaranteed. When Oscar decides to scream or oink, there’s no great way to get him stop. If I need to take an important phone call or my husband needs to get on a call for work, it’s hard to explain the squealing pig in the background. In fact, I typically have to take Oscar outside or cuddle with him when my husband is on calls so that Oscar isn’t oinking in the background. I remember one particular morning when we couldn’t get Oscar to stop squealing while my husband was on a work call, so out of desperation I shut myself and Oscar in the laundry room and rubbed Oscar’s belly for an hour until the call was over. If I stopped rubbing, Oscar started squealing again. I think this will continue to get better and easier with time, but I have times where I miss that guaranteed peace and quiet.

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3. When I need to run extended errands. We live in the country and it takes a little while to drive into town, so I get a list of errands together and run them all at once. Between the drive to town and back and all of the stores I need to go to while I’m in town, my errand runs can take a long time. Oscar is very routined, so if I’m out much past his meal times, I come home to an upset, screaming pig. Although that’s not pleasant, I can deal with it. The bigger challenge is that Oscar isn’t litter box trained, so he needs to be taken outside to potty. If I’m out too long, he will try to hold it which isn’t healthy or comfortable for him and makes me feel awful for not getting him out in time. In general, I just feel guilty for leaving him home by himself for too long. Really guilty. I used to leave my dogs home alone during the day and, although it wasn’t ideal, I knew they were okay. With Oscar, I feel terrible if he isn’t getting the attention, stimulation, and love that he needs. I used to enjoy errands more, but these days I feel guilty when I’m away from home for long, and I’ve lost the flexibility to just stop at a few more stores because I’m usually rushing to get back home to let Oscar out or to spend time with him.

4. When I want to sleep in. Oscar used to sleep in, and it was wonderful. At some point in the past few months though, Oscar decided to start getting up early. Most days now, he is up by 6:30 am. During the week, that’s no problem and fits our schedule well. However, for those days on the weekend when we want to catch up on our sleep, Oscar’s wake up time can be frustrating. When Oscar first wakes up, he grinds his teeth for about 10 minutes and then starts screaming to go outside. After I’ve taken him outside to potty and brought him back in, I get back in bed to get more sleep, but then Oscar starts screaming for his breakfast. In the past, we just fed him right after taking him outside so that he wouldn’t scream to get his breakfast, but he kept waking up earlier and earlier each day to eat. We have tried ignoring him, putting him in another room, and a million other things, but this is still a challenge for us. Some weekends are better than others and he won’t wake quite as early (the time change has helped!) or won’t scream as much waiting for his breakfast, but we’ve given up a bit on sleeping in and just try to go to bed early enough now that we can get up when Oscar does.

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Oscar waiting eagerly for his breakfast.

5. When Oscar is being aggressive. I’ve been pretty open about Oscar’s aggressive tendencies, and it’s something we’ve struggled with. Thanks to Move the Pig, Oscar is doing much better now, but we still have challenging days and weeks. I put a ton of time and energy into making sure Oscar is a happy pig, so when he is being aggressive or trying to bite, it can be really heartbreaking. It’s easy to feel like Oscar doesn’t like me, but I’ve learned to remember that a lot of his aggression is due to a pig’s natural hierarchical needs. It doesn’t make the aggression better, but it helps me understand it from a more useful perspective. We are still using Move the Pig on a regular basis and seeing improvements, but his more aggressive days can be difficult.

If you’re considering getting a mini pig, really consider if the pros of owning a mini pig outweigh these tradeoffs for you and your family. The tradeoffs will carry different weights for each individual person. At the end of the day, the tradeoffs are worth it for me. However, for example, if your life goal is to travel and you don’t have someone you trust to watch your mini pig, that tradeoff could be a huge challenge and frustration for you. It might not be worth it for you to have a mini pig in order to give up opportunities to travel, and that’s okay as long as you really consider that before making the decision to get a mini pig. Consider what daily life is like for you and really think about each of the tradeoffs to decide if having a mini pig will be worth it for you.

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I went into mini pig ownership committed to Oscar, and he has a forever home with us. We have worked through several challenges with Oscar already, and I know we will work through more. I accepted both the ups and downs of life with a mini pig when we decided to get one. For a while, I was really ashamed of my moments when I wish I didn’t have a mini pig; I felt like a terrible pig owner for just having those thoughts. I still wish I didn’t have those moments, but I don’t worry about them any more. I know they are a result of a frustrating time or phase with Oscar, and I know those thoughts will pass. I have many more moments when I’m so grateful we have Oscar and when I just love him more than I ever thought I could, and those more than make up for the tough moments for me. However, they won’t for everyone, so it’s important to consider the tradeoffs of owning a mini pig before deciding to get one.

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We’ve had our challenges with Oscar, but this little guy sure has my heart.




Mini Pig Oscar Featured on The Painted Hoof

Oscar was recently featured on The Painted Hoof website! The Painted Hoof is run by a wonderful artist named Dar who uses her website to introduce sanctuaries and rescues and offers her art to them for free to help them raise funds for their residents. Last summer, she provided several paintings of Esther the Wonder Pig for a fundraiser to help Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary (HEEFS). Her amazing paintings were offered as prizes in a draw for everyone who made a donation, and the money from the donations helped fund the sanctuary so that they can better help animals.

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In addition to sanctuaries, she also features individual owners on her website and offers them a painting of their pet and allows them to share their story. We were lucky enough to have Dar feature Oscar on her website. She allowed us to share his story through an interview, and she also painted pictures of Oscar, Rylee, and Liam so that we could have them to enjoy. Dar took so much time to learn about Oscar and his personality, and her understanding of him shows in her paintings. She did an amazing job of capturing Oscar’s essence and spirit, and we are so excited about them. She also surprised us with a picture of Liam, our dog who passed last year, and it’s a painting that we will always treasure.

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Here is the link to The Painted Hoof website where you can read Dar’s interview with me about Oscar and also see her amazing paintings of Oscar, Rylee, and Liam.

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Dar has a huge heart for animals and for the people who love them, and her mission to help both is amazing and inspiring. She is using her art and time to make a difference in the world and to make it a better place for animals, both in sanctuaries and in individual homes, and we are honored we had the opportunity to share Oscar’s story on her site.

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