I have wanted to provide an update on Oscar for a long time but have struggled to find the right words to say. I started this blog right after we brought Oscar home because I was having trouble finding information about day-to-day life with a mini pig. Although I had done my research on mini pigs, I had no idea what to expect when we brought him home. I loved writing this blog and sharing about Oscar because he meant the world to me and also because it helped connect me to other “pig people”, many who were amazing resources to me as a new pig parent.
Although I knew I wanted a mini pig and was excited about bringing Oscar home, what I didn’t expect was how hard it would be at times and, at the same, how much I could love a pig. Oscar became my world. He is funny, charming, incredibly aware, sweet, cuddly, and so much more than I ever expected. I hope that my love for Oscar came through in his blog, and I also hope that it still shows as I write this update.
One of my goals with the blog was to be completely honest about life with Oscar. I didn’t want it to be a “highlight reel” of only the best moments. I wanted to be open about the tough days too. My reasoning was that, while pigs are amazing animals, I wanted people to know what they were getting into when deciding whether or not to bring a mini pig home. It doesn’t help potential owners or pigs if I only share the good and leave out important information about the struggles and harder days of owning Oscar.
In remaining true to the reason I started this blog, I want to update on why I stopped writing and where Oscar is now. It has taken me so long because I needed some time to decide where I stood on mini pig ownership and the message I wanted to send.
One of the biggest struggles we had while owning Oscar was his relationship with our dog, Rylee. Although they started out having a decent relationship, that changed over time and as Oscar outgrew Rylee. I wrote several posts on their relationship and our challenges with it, which you can read in this previous post. Their relationship grew more and more tense, with Oscar challenging Rylee any time they crossed paths in the house. Since Oscar was eventually so much bigger than Rylee, it became a real issue we had to deal with. Oscar would charge at and corner her while trying to bite, and Rylee was small and old enough that she would occasionally fight back but couldn’t sufficiently stand her ground. Eventually, she started spending almost all day under our bed because it was the only place where Oscar couldn’t get to her. When she did come out, she would sneak around the house trying to avoid him. Ultimately, we decided the risk to her safety was too high and her quality of life was quickly decreasing, and we had to make a decision. This was a horrible decision and took several months for me to finally make. I loved Oscar to death, but Rylee was already 11 years old and I had made a commitment to her that I felt I needed to keep.
We looked for a long time for the right place for Oscar which was an excruciating process. I only wanted him to go somewhere he would be happy. After talking with several families and nothing being the right fit, I contacted Hog Haven Farm in Colorado to see if they would be the right place for him and to see if they had space. Erin at Hog Haven was so helpful and answered all of my questions, and we decided that was the right place for him.
The day we packed Oscar up to take him to Hog Haven was one of the worst days of my life. I absolutely did not want to give him up. I loved him so much, and he just made my days brighter. Cuddling with Oscar was hands down the best part of every day. I had full intentions of keeping him forever, so I was devastated and heartbroken and extremely embarrassed to be taking him to a new home. I knew he would be loved at Hog Haven Farm, but I wasn’t sure if he would adjust well or if he would get along with other pigs or if he would even be okay without us.
We arrived at Hog Haven to a warm welcome from Erin. She was helpful and compassionate as I stood there bawling and trying to figure out how I was going to be able to say goodbye and walk away from Oscar. Oscar wandered around a bit with one of the other pigs, Morty, and seemed to be doing okay for being in such a new situation. We got in the car to come home, and I felt so empty. I felt like I was doing what I had to do for Rylee, but that pig had come into my life and had changed it. Yes, we had hard days and struggled, but I also had no idea how much I would come to love and adore him.
That was back in January, so how is Oscar now? He is doing amazingly well. Actually, within a day of us dropping him off at Hog Haven, he found a “girlfriend.” Her name is Annabelle, and she was also new to Hog Haven. They quickly bonded, and Erin and her husband, Andrew, have actually decided to keep both Oscar and Annabelle as their own instead of adopting them out. As Oscar does, he wiggled his way into Erin’s heart as well. He is a therapy pig and goes to nursing homes with Erin and performs his tricks for everyone. He has made other pig friends, loves the mud, and is living like a king there at Hog Haven Farm. So, although the decision was so hard, I am at least content that he is happy and we made the right decision for him. He was also a star on the Denver news when Erin took Oscar and Annabelle to show them off for National Pig Day and, more importantly, to educate people about mini pigs. Here is the link to see Oscar on the news.
In fact, I truly think Oscar is happier at Hog Haven than he ever was with us. This was hard for me to accept for a while, despite how happy I was that he loved being at Hog Haven. I felt like we did everything we could for him, including giving him tons of time, attention, and training. However, one thing I’ve struggled with is seeing how happy he is with his pig friends and especially with his girlfriend, Annabelle. Pigs don’t always get along and that’s one of the reasons we never got a second pig as a friend for him, but he has really thrived around the other pigs there.
I am incredibly grateful for Hog Haven Farm and for the work Erin and Andrew are doing. As I’ve had a chance to get to know Erin more, she is such a kind, compassionate person. She truly is just one of the “good people” in this world, and I am forever grateful to her for being able to give Oscar such a good home. He is happy, and that’s all we wanted for him. If you are looking for more updates on Oscar, I encourage you to look up/like/friend Hog Haven Farm on Facebook and Instagram. Erin shares pictures of Oscar every once in a while and, if you followed his blog, I know you will enjoy seeing pictures of him happy in his new home. Also, his teeth are still ridiculously adorable.
I’ve also learned a lot from Erin throughout this process. We are not alone in our struggle with pigs and dogs. People talk a lot about how pigs are often rehomed or given up due to size, but dogs are the second biggest reason for surrender. Some pigs and dogs do fine together and some don’t. However, as two different species, they really don’t coexist well. Although Oscar was bigger than Rylee and was causing a risk to her safety, it is more commonly pigs who are harmed by dogs. Pigs are prey animals and dogs are predators, and that can result in tragic situations if not carefully watched. Erin currently has three pigs at Hog Haven who are missing ears from dog attacks, and unfortunately situations between dogs and pigs can end up even worse. When things go wrong, pigs just aren’t able to defend themselves. In our case, things were fine between Oscar and Rylee until they weren’t. I was that animal lover who said I would never give up a pet, but in this case it was one pet I loved and made a commitment to versus another.
I’ve considered making this a space to share more about what I’ve learned and provide occasional updates on Oscar, but I haven’t decided for sure yet. I have had a lot of time to think about what I wish I would have known and what information about mini pig ownership still needs to be shared so that people can make informed decisions about mini pigs.
What I do know is that I still believe pigs are amazing creatures. I still love Oscar dearly and still miss him every single day. We have a lot of “Remember when Oscar used to…” moments in our home, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about him. We had our struggles and frustrations, but I had no idea the lasting impact he would have in our lives that day we brought him home.
- All photos in this post taken and provided by Erin Brinkley-Burgardt at Hog Haven Farm