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
38 thoughts on “Update on Oscar”
Thank you for sharing Oscar’s story. You are not alone. I have given serious consideration to re-homing my pig after being bit and gored twice requiring stitches and lots of antibiotics. They not only bully other animals, but also their owners occasionally. Fortunately, his behavior improved over the years–he’ll be four next week.
I appreciate your honesty, and I will continue to look for Oscar’s sweet smile on Hog Haven’s Instagram page.
Hi Amanda! Thank you for sharing that. We also had our challenges with aggression and bullying. We worked with and handled everything we could until the situation with Rylee became too serious to ignore. I know that aggression is a common issue with pigs, and it’s such a hard one to work through. As you might have read, we tried Move the Pig and then I stopped that technique and tried some others when MTP wasn’t fixing the issue. We were able to manage his aggression a bit, but a lot of it was with behavior change from us or putting him away when family came over in order to keep him from charging. I’m so glad to hear the behavior has improved for yours and hopefully it stays that way and continues on a good path. It’s something that people don’t talk about enough and can be a tough issue, especially for people with kids or senior/less capable pets like in our case.
Definitely continue to look for him on Hog Haven’s page. Oscar still has those ridiculous teeth, and they always make my day when Erin posts pictures of him. Thanks for your kind comment! It’s helpful for people who stumble on the blog to read about other experiences and not just mine, so thank you for sharing.
Oh do I understand. I loved Pumpkin and had her two weeks. In two weeks pumpkin ate up my hall wall, chewed into my furniture and did not like my dogs. She was so much work, as she got bigger, I knew in my heart I had to release her to a good home. I could barely lift her at three months of age. I found a young man that opens up his dad’s farm to kids and boyscouts to see his animals. I knew Pumpkin would be happy. She is very happy in her large pen with a large home for her to sleep in. A 8X8 outside home. I fell in love fast with Pumpkin but I knew at 64 years of age,and no outside area for her, it was time to make Pumpkin happy.
We, too, have had “growing pains” with Lulu (Desilu_the_mini_pig). I had posted something on IG last Saturday & realized I had not seen or heard anything about Oscar in quite awhile. We, too, are experiencing a negative change in the relationship between Lulu & Otis, our Basset Hound. The biggest problem we are having is that she is aggressive toward anyone that comes in our house or hangs out on our back deck. She charges unexpectedly & tries to nip and sometimes outright bite adults or children. Lulu was 1 in May and is 50 lbs. She is obsessed with her daddy & insists on being in his lap anytime he’s sitting down. Because of the aggressive behavior, we have talked about finding a more suitable home for her. Everytime I think about her not being here on a daily basis, it makes me so sad and I feel like we have betrayed her trust. I waited 3 years in deciding to get her & felt like we were prepared to add her to our family. I still don’t regret our decision & I do feel like Mini Livestock in Cleveland, Georgia was a reputable source. It gives me hope to hear Oscar’s update and I’m thrilled that Erin decided to keep him & Annabelle and give them a worthwhile purpose as Therapy Pigs. I look forward to more updates & will follow them on their website & IG. As hard as it was, it sounds like you made the right decision for everyone involved!
Hi Jamie! Thank you for commenting about Lulu! I feel like I could have written most of your comment myself because it’s so similar to what we experienced with Oscar. The issue with Rylee was the one we eventually couldn’t handle as the stress/fear was taking a serious toll on Rylee’s health. However, we also had issues with aggression and charging when people came to our house. I got pretty used to Oscar’s charging and learned to stand my ground, but we had grown men run from Oscar when he would charge at them. I completely understand the feeling like you’ve betrayed their trust. Ugh, I felt that so much during our last few months with Oscar and still do. We made the choice (also after waiting years like you did) to bring him home and into our family, so it was awful to take him somewhere else and leave him after getting him used to us and our routines and our home. We loved him so much and still do, and I can tell you really love Lulu. I’m hoping it works out. I’ve heard from other commenters and from more experienced pig parents that the aggression can calm down with time and tends to ease a bit once they are older. For us, the only consolation is that Oscar is happy and Rylee is much happier these days as well. I’m also thrilled that Erin decided to keep Oscar and Annabelle and that he is continuing to bring smiles and happiness to others through his therapy program. Thanks for your comment. I wish I had answers on the aggression, but it can be really hard. I just hope things improve and work out with her because I can tell Lulu is really loved! 🙂
Thanks for sharing, we only had our pig for a few weeks. She bonded with and loved me but was very jealous of my husband and other guests. When I would leave the room she would charge and bite my husband as well as guests. I think she would have made a great companion if I was single….but I’m not.
Thank you for sharing that! I love when other people can read experiences on here from other pig parents, both positive and negative. My story is just one, and the site is a stronger resource when others share. That’s a tough situation, and it would have led to a really hard situation in your home with her loving you but charging and biting your husband and guests. I hope she found a great new home and is happy! 🙂
I’m so sorry….it sounds like you did the right thing though. Sometimes I think my Elliot would be better off on a small farm. I’m a little worried about my dogs with him. My smaller dog now avoids Elliot- no fighting but they don’t play anymore and they used to play all the time- Elliot is 6 months old. My Boxer he respects, but if he stops, I don’t think she will put up with him and that scares me. She is almost 80 pounds and 9 years old. She mothers him!
Sibling piggies can be terrible to each other as well!
A lot of people selling these piglets DO NOT educate buyers and that is really sad for both.
They are a handful even for an animal lover. I think you shouldn’t get one if you don’t have someone home all day. I love him but he is very demanding like a bratty 2 year old at times. I’m being really honest here. I have 4 grown children!
They should be your only pet, unless you live on a small farm.
I enjoyed this site, even though for a short time. Thank you for starting it. Maybe someday when your dog crosses the rainbow bridge, hopefully not soon ❤️ you can rescue a piggy. Good luck to you & thank you.
Hi Rosanna! Thank you for your comment! I 100% agree about a lot of people selling piglets and not educating buyers. One of the things I was pretty shocked to learn when I took Oscar to Hog Haven was that many of the pigs there are also from Oscar’s breeder. That signals a big problem to me. Some breeders these days are embracing education and doing a great job, but they are few and far between in my opinion. I get upset with the breeders who aren’t educating, but it’s even more important for the rest of us to do it if the breeders aren’t going to. Someone said in a comment to me once that pig parenting isn’t for the faint of heart, and it’s true. We spent tons of time and energy with Oscar and loved him so so much, but we couldn’t overcome the hurdle with Rylee. I know not everyone will agree with or understand our decision, but I know how much we loved him and how hard we tried to make it work.
I am now conflicted on exactly how I feel about mini pigs as pets. I definitely think they are amazing and can make great pets, but we have also seen how much Oscar has thrived in more of a farm environment with other pigs in his life. It’s something I am honestly still sorting out and trying to process. Despite the challenges, pigs are amazing. I have never had a pet so aware and sweet and cuddly (when he wanted to be…haha) and who brought so many laughs and so much joy to my life.
I am hoping things all stay smooth with Elliot and your dogs. It sounds like Elliot has a really loving home. 🙂 I definitely agree about the bratty 2 year old comment! I don’t have kids, but I feel like I got a taste of what parenting would be like with Oscar.
Thank you for your kind comment. Hopefully more of us can educate since so many breeders aren’t and can continue making the world better for pigs. 🙂
Thank you for sharing this post with us, I was getting worried about you and your pets since the last update in January. I know it’s hard to surrender a pet, especially when you bonded so well with them, but you’ve honestly done the right thing for both Oscar and Rylee. I’m sorry you had to go through this though but know that you have support. Oscar and Rylee are much happier now because of your decision.
I know a lot of people often look down on other people surrendering a pet but often times it’s actually the best for the animal themselves. Always put your animal’s welfare in mind when it comes to keeping them or not. If your pet is unhappy most of the time, doesn’t get along with other animals in the house, is endangering them and/or other people then it’s time to get them a new home. You’re not a bad person for doing this, in fact this is a very responsible thing for a pet owner to do.
Thank you so much for your supportive comment. You’re absolutely right about surrendering a pet being so hard. I thought I would never ever do that, but sometimes things don’t work out as planned. Although I knew Oscar would be well cared for and loved at Hog Haven, I really wanted to turn around and go back and pick him up the day after we dropped him off. Fortunately, my husband talked me down. I’m actually glad now that I didn’t go get him because he is so happy and loved there, and Rylee is much better off as well. Thinking about him waking up each day to Annabelle and all of his pig friends there makes things easier.
I have really struggled with knowing how people look at others who surrender pets. I was definitely one of those people before, but of course now I have a different view on it. I know the transition was hard on Oscar, but he is still loved and Rylee is so much less stressed. We tried so hard with him to make it work, but things between them just kept getting worse. Thank you for sharing this perspective and for understanding. Aside from a few, I’ve been met with overwhelmingly compassionate responses from this post and I’m so grateful that people understand. Oscar is happy and is still doing his tricks and making people smile which is what matters. 🙂
I have a very big bratty six year old piggy girl named Penny, she is very aggressive towards anyone who isn’t me or my boyfriend and even us sometimes we can only touch her on her terms which is so odd cause the first two years she was a lap pig but just changed, well we live with never being able to go away because no one can watch her, and never being able to have family or company over because of her behavior but I still love my huge bratty she makes things very difficult but when I think of trying to find somewhere else for her to go I get hysterical because even though she is mean half the time I know it would kill her to not be here as we are the only ones she tolerates plus she is blind so it makes it even harder. Ok I’m done venting and thank you for sharing your story. Glad all worked out please pray for us lol
Hi Cherilyn! Sorry to hear you’re having some struggles with Penny! I wish some of the things you are experiencing were less common, but I’ve heard from so many other owners with similar situations. Fortunately for the pigs, we become so attached and bonded that we deal with all of the behavior things that come with them. 🙂 We had trouble finding someone who could watch Oscar, so I feel your pain on that especially. He head swiped a lot, especially if touched on his right side near his face, and we didn’t feel like it was fair to ask someone to watch him because of that. For people who haven’t been around pigs and aren’t used to it, head swiping is terrifying. If things had worked out with Oscar, we had just found someone who could watch him so we could go out of town. She is a lady not far from us who has several pigs. When I asked her about head swiping, it didn’t even phase her…haha. So, I wonder if you could ever find another pig owner nearby who you felt comfortable leaving Penny with while you got away on vacation. I’m sure it’s something you’ve thought about already but wanted to mention it since it was a struggle we had as well. We will be thinking about you and Penny! Despite the challenges she brings it sounds like she’s very loved. 🙂
The most loving action toward a pet is to do best by your pet- you did that for Oscar, forsaking your own desire- never feel guilty about your decision to let him go. You went in committed to him and gave it your all. I learned so much from you the last couple months as I adjust my life for Bacon-Bit, our 4 month old baby. Biggest lesson- it is a learning curve on both sides, but much more for Mommy and Daddy than piglet. Second lesson- as soon as you think piggy and you have pattern set, get ready for change. Challenges aside, we are lucky so far. He is our only pet and has distinct routines with me and my husband. But, he is still young, leaving me cautiously hopeful we can make the long haul with him. Thank you for the time and dedication given to your blog. Glad Rylee back to her safe place in your home.
Thank you so much for your kind comment. We definitely only wanted the best for Oscar. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out with him and Rylee, but I do think he still has the best at Hog Haven. We sure miss his funny antics and cuddles though. I’m so glad the blog has been helpful with Bacon-Bit. It might be good that he is your only pet so that you don’t have to worry about the dog/pig struggles we had. It’s also good that Bacon-Bit has settled into a routine with you and your husband. Oscar really thrived with routine and got grumpy when we had a day that was off of our normal schedule and he didn’t know what to expect (or, heaven forbid we weren’t home at his exact normal meal time…haha). Fortunately for him, we are pretty routined as well and I think pigs really do well with that structure. I hope things stay great with Bacon-Bit. I like that you said “as I adjust my life for Bacon-Bit” because that’s how it usually goes. 🙂 They come into our lives and it’s amazing how much we change for them but do it because we love them. Thank you again for your comment!
Why didn’t you just put him outside and bring him in on certain occasions? I have 4 pigs (2 oopsie piglets) outside and they’re doing great. I first had only one at 9 weeks old then when she turned about 6 months old I got another female for a friend and at the time didn’t realize that this new 7 month old was pregnant. She gave birth to 3 piglets and only 2 survived. The piglets are now 5 months old and doing great. I was going to sell one of them because the piglet would do nothing but squeal loud when it was feeding time, but now she has quieted down a lot. I have all of them outside because I live in a travel trailer and it’s too small for all of them. They all have pools and get hosed down during the hottest part of the day. The mama pig likes to charge at my girlfriend, but I told her “you need to stand your ground and bop her on the nose if she tries to bite you” and it seems to work a bit. I would bop her lightly on the nose if she tried to bite me and tell her NO and since then she has never tried to bite me again. She was very skiddish when I first got her (mama pig Malyutka) but she seems to be doing better now. I do play with them and see them everyday so I’m not one to neglect my animals by any means. My animals are spoiled in their own little ways.
Thank you .I have a big pot belly pig named Daisy may .I noticed she was loosing her teeth.I told my husband something was wrong with her .He looked it up and you had a post on oscar .Made me feel better .I posted the article to Facebook.And Erin said do you recognize who that is .I asked if that’s oscar she said yes.I volunteer at hog haven so I can learn more.To take better care of my daisy.It such a small world but thank you for being honest.and your blog on oscar teeth falling out.
Hi Kristine! I’m so glad you found Oscar’s post on his losing teeth helpful for Daisy May! It’s a little scary the first time they start losing teeth, but it’s also kind of a funny thing about pigs. Once I knew Oscar losing his teeth was normal, it was adorable when he lost the front two. 🙂 That’s so awesome that you volunteer at Hog Haven! I wish we were closer to there. :-/ Erin is a good person, so it’s great that you’re helping out and also learning more for Daisy May. Erin has taught me a lot about pigs just in our process with Oscar. Give Oscar a big hug for us when you see him!
Thank you so much for your site and especially for your videos. I am a first time pot belly pig owner. My girl is almost five months old. Your training videos have been THE BEST on YouTube for teaching tricks.
I’m sorry to hear you had to give your pig up, I’m sure that was difficult. One of my fears has been that as my girl gets older she might become aggressive. She does a head swipe sometimes, which makes me concerned about a future escalation. She has never bit anyone, and so far has been fine with our two dogs (25 and 40 lbs). But I know as she gets older that may change.
I’ve been scouring the web for any information that may help to prevent this before it happens. But, having never raised a pig before. I’m concerned about the unknowns of what may lie ahead. The more I read the more concerned I get.
I am fortunate that I can take her to work with me, and she is exposed to meeting many people throughout the day. Everyone she meets loves her. I hope that this will make her less likely to become aggressive toward people. I read stories about some pigs challenging guests that come into people’s homes. Obviously this would not be acceptable if she does this at work. I don’t have enough experience with pigs to know how often aggression becomes a factor. Do you know if biting and charging at people and dogs is a behavior that is common to most indoor mini pigs? Or is it with less than most? It’s been weighing on my mind lately.
Hi! Thank you for your kind comments about Oscar. Giving him up was incredibly hard, but I like to remember he’s really happy at Hog Haven. 🙂 Aggression with pigs is a tough issue, and I can relate with your worries about aggression becoming a problem. I think it’s awesome that you can take her to work with you so that she’s out and about and meeting people. Oscar was always better on other territories and worse about his aggression at home. I’m sure being in “his” space made him territorial in that area, whereas he was sweet as could be when we took him to the vet or to his grandma’s house.
One thing that’s interesting is, from what Erin mentioned to me once, Oscar has not been aggressive with people since he went to Hog Haven. With us, he head swiped daily as he got older. At Hog Haven, not at all. So, my theory (which is just a theory based on only Oscar) is that being around other pigs where he could work out his hierarchy with them (rather than humans) helped settle his people aggression. His behavior change once he went to Hog Haven was immediate, and being around other pigs is the main thing that changed. I know people who get a second pig have mixed results, which is why we didn’t get a second pig (among bigger issues with Rylee of course). Pigs often fight with other pigs at first to settle hierarchy. Once that’s settled, many of them bond closely and become best friends. Others seem to never really settle the hierarchy and it becomes a really difficult situation for the owner. But, just to say, I don’t know if it was being around other pigs or being outside more for sure, but being at Hog Haven made a huge difference in Oscar’s aggression.
We tried Move the Pig for a long time with Oscar, and then I read some other behavior approaches that countered MTP. One of those is The Animal Behavior Center, which addresses pig aggression specifically. I recommend checking out their information and looking at their approach to see if it resonates with you. Again, nothing we did here “fixed” Oscar’s aggression with us, but it’s worth reading up on the different approaches to handling it before it could become an issue. Here is their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/TheAnimalBehaviorCenterLlc.
I hope you don’t have an issue with aggression and that everything continues to stay good with your girl. I completely understand the worry of pig aggression because it’s hard to deal with, but just read up on some different approaches and see if there is anything you can do to help keep her head swiping from escalating. Also, thank you again for the kind comments about our website! 🙂
Hi there! We have been following life with a mini pig, I want to reaffirm how helpful the blog has been for our family. We are sorry that you had to part with Oscar – but we really appreciate your transparency and telling your story, and where you found a home for him. I wanted to ask you that no matter what you keep your blog up online – it is one of the best resources out there for mini pig owners. Thank you so much.
Thank you so much for such a sweet comment! It really does mean a lot to know that the transparency helped and that his story, although not perfect or ideal or what we wanted or expected when it started, continues to help others. I will definitely keep the blog up. I would love to continue helping other mini pig owners if I can because I know the love that comes with these pigs and also that mini pig ownership can come with some hard days too. Thank you for taking the time to write your kind comment. I appreciate it!
If nothing else, I can appreciate your honesty with regards to this blog. Hog Haven Farm is an awesome place and Erin is amazing. You have done such a fantastic job in documenting the journey; I have several of your links posted to the Mini Pig Info website. Sometimes, situations simply do not work out as well as we hope or expected. There is no doubt how much you love Oscar, and sometimes keeping them in a potentially dangerous situation is not the best thing for them. He is very lucky that he’s had you as his mama for so long and I know you will be checking up on him often. Having that bond with a pig is like no other animal. The decision was difficult, I’m sure, but it sounds like you made the right decision for YOUR pig and YOUR situation. Thank you for always being truthful and honest in your posts and I am so glad that Oscar is settling in and loving his new life.
Thank you, Brittany! Your website is such a wealth of information, and I really appreciate your kind comment. That’s so true about situations not always working out as we hope or expect. As I continue down the path of life, I’ve sure learned not to judge others as much because we just never know. Sometimes the best we can do is make the next best decision, and I believe we did that for Oscar and for our dog. We keep in touch with Hog Haven, and I’m SO incredibly grateful to Erin for being so willing to update me and just for providing a life for him that we couldn’t. That place is amazing, and he is so happy with his pig friends. We looked for a while to find him the right place and, while I wish things would have worked out because we miss him tons, I have no regrets about taking him to Hog Haven. Thank you for your compassion and for understanding. He has learned to love water and mud and of course Hog Haven has the occasional produce donation day, so I have the comfort of knowing he’s living life like a king there. 🙂
I am commenting in hopes of helping someone who is struggling with an aggression issue with their pig and who like me would do anything to avoid rehoming. Not a judgement on anyone who does, at all. But for me personally I made a commitment to my animal and I too have had challenges too, at one point my husband was demanding we rehome our pig and it was either the pig or him. Not a doable Sophie’s Choice for me, but I thought, if it came to that I would protect my pig and leave my home with the pig, even though he had attacked me over and over. My thinking was, I was doing something wrong for sure and ultimately that would not be a choice I would need to make.
I had previously owned a pot belly pig for almost 20 years, from the time he was six weeks old to when his body was failing and we had the vet help him to Hog Heaven. So I was no stranger to owning a pig, and was very excited and anxious to get another and so we did. But the breeds these days are very different from the original pot belly pigs, they are more energetic and aggressive. I did all of the things I did with my first pig, establish myself as top pig, etc. But it didn’t work, it only made things worse, he got more aggressive, attacking guests, biting me and my husband and destroying the house and garden.
I was at my wits end and desperate for an answer, so I found the “Move the Pig” method, I tried it and it was only making things even worse. One night after I fed my pig, Kieran, (at that time, four years old and very big and strong) for some reason he ran after me and tore into my calf causing extensive damage. I was then at the point of finally surrendering to the idea that my pig is beyond hope and needed to go.
That night in tears I searched and searched about aggressive pigs, buried deep in a piggy parent’s blog post I found a link for The Animal Behavior Center with owner Lara Joseph (as was also referenced in an above comment). She is an animal behavior specialist and was offering an affordable webinar to work with aggressive behaviors in pigs. I bought it then and there (https://www.theanimalbehaviorcenter.com) I have been working with her techniques for about ten months, my pig’s behavior has vastly improved, not perfect, but much better. He can get aggressive still when things upset him, and this weekend he was sick but not sick enough to not attack me when I went into the garage where his bed is. After the fourth attack, I got down close to him, grabbed him, held him and patted him until he calmed down, he relaxed and laid down. I got calm and then he did as well. I left to give him space and then when he was feeling better I got back to our training. I keep it up and the more time I can give him, the better his behavior.
I have bruises and scraps, but he has never drawn blood and he will stop his aggression after brief attacks. If he didn’t I would think it was a lost cause as I have done everything possible to remedy the situation. But I do see improvement and it is absolutely equal to the time I put into the training method I learned from Lara. My mistake was not to start this from the beginning, but I didn’t know and there is so much conflicting information out there. I did some basic training, but hers is way beyond what I knew to do, which was based on what people did with pet pigs twenty years ago.
Again, I want to stress, in no way is this a judgement to the owner of this blog, some pigs really just need to be with their own kind and she made the best judgement call for her pet. I only post this because I also saw here the mention of the “Move the Pig” method and if anyone else is thinking of doing it… DON’T! You will fail… horribly. Lara is absolutely against that method as it doesn’t work and only will make matters worse. If you have aggression issues try her method, it works. It is very simple, but requires consistency and patience. At first my pig wasn’t having any of it, well that was because he got too spoiled and at that point he thought he was the top pig, and basically we were afraid of him! So the first thing to go was food, other than basic sustenance (pig chow with warm water and bran, aka gruel!), all treats, veggies, fruit and his very favorite… popcorn, disappeared for a good three weeks. That got his attention right away. From there we could move forward. My cousin, who has a couple spoiled small dogs was amazed that I could have my (now five year old 200lb) pig go to a carpet square and stay there until I gave him a command to be able to leave it. I totally amazed too (stunned actually given how bad my piggy could be), but the methods Lara shows do work.
If you can and still want to work with your bad piggy, do get her webinar, it is very affordable, her Facebook page info, while very informative, is not the in depth training needed to turn things around.
Heart felt kudos and respect to any and all that have had their lives changed by these “little” pigs.
I want to add a PS to my comment, the only issues I had with dogs was a dog going for the kill after my pig (which added to his issues of aggression), long story, but the dog was part pit bull. I had been aware for a long time that for some reason dogs and pigs do not match. Although with my first pig, his best friend was the German Shepard next door, they hung out together in perfect harmony. It must be a case of personalities between the breeds (Babe was a good friend with the Shepard dogs in that movie), but you have to be super careful putting those two species together! And usually the pigs are the victims, but not always. We also have four ducks that our pig likes to chase, but he never harms them. Odd isn’t it how all of us animals get along!
One last PS, the reason the ducks and my pig are so compatible is that they are both prey animals. Prey animals need to be in groups so they can alert each other to a threat. Predator animals like dogs, cats, etc, are enemies of prey animals. I did hours of research to find a species that could be companions to my pig, without having more pigs (which was not an option for us) Our ducks are perfect companion animals, they get along, they love the same treats, (popcorn night is a feeding frenzy) The ducks are loud at any threat and our pig hangs out by the duck pond most of the day. And though he has bitten me badly, he has never, ever hurt one of my ducks, not even close. I guess the lesson I have learned is to know the animal you want as your pet. Dogs and humans have a natural compatibility based on their mutual natures. If you choose to get a pet out of your nature you must adapt and that may not be possible. So research, think it over… I get so many people that say to me, they want a pet pig, I say to them, okay, how about pig sitting for me for a weekend before you decide. So far none of them have gotten back to me! It isn’t easy having a pet pig, when mature you have the intelligence of at least a six year old child in a body that is at least 180 lbs, plus and a mouth full of sharp teeth, and an iron will. Don’t take that on unless you are able to handle it, pigs are at least as smart as dolphins, But if you do and you can, it is as rewarding as it is frustrating. A pet pig is not like a dog in your family, it is a like having a small human child in your family that is super strong and super strong willed. It is not a teacup, little tiny thing that can be carried around like a mini poodle.
That said, once you establish a mutual relationship, pigs will become like your own children and the bond will be as equally strong. It is true that we as humans are closer to pigs in our DNA than we are with apes, emotionally that is true as well. So, please, do not get a pig as a pet unless you really know what your are getting into. And you have a large yard and infinite patience.
Thank you for this information! My Sisu is 4 mos old, and so far my 11yo granddaughter, Abi, is having issues with her. Mostly headswiping, and Abi is a jerky, fast moving kind of person . She also inadvertently annoys Sisu; looking in her mouth when she is sleeping, shifting her around alot when they are napping together, etc. Yet, Sisu stops what she is doing when she hears Abi’s voice and rushes to greet her, so its not aggression; she is reacting to objectionable behavior. Abi loves animals and has learned to adapt her behavior to our adopted stray cats and two aggressive breed dogs (also rescues, dont worry. This is a large house on 5 acres and everyone is kept separated; we swap them around for family time. One of them has cancer, the other one is 11yrs old, so they have had happy and safe lives). Im excited to learn how to respect what they are and thus adjust our approach to them, and Abi is a really fast learner. Im not an expert either, so I’m anxious to learn too. The more we know, the more confident we are with that animal and confidence is the key to success.
As an aside, I have also noticed that the younger the piglet is when acquired, the more severe behavior issues seem to be. (From reading comments). No animal should be removed from their mothers/family be prior to weaning, in my opinion.
You’re blog has been so resourceful in helping us in our first two months of pig ownership. Our lil guy’s name is Oscar too. I was not prepared for how vocal pigs were and this was how I first came upon your blog. We are now facing mange and staph with our little Oscar and once again I have found peace in reading your experience.
I became curious to see how things ended up with you and Oscar and see that you had to re-home him which is so understandable but I understand your heartbreak (bittersweet). I had a similar experience but with a baby goat. Matilda was 2 days old when I began fostering her and began a bond with her that forever changed my life and although I had ALL the love and time in the world for her, I could not provide her the companionship she so desperately needed from other goats or the safe outdoor keeping she required. She is thriving at discovery farm in cherry hill, New Jersey and because she was raised much like a child verse a goat she has many human characteristics socially and has been used to educate children and join birthday celebrations at the farm.
We got Oscar a few months after re-homing Matilda and I understand what you said about feeling embarrassed to share your decision/need to rehome your Oscar. When I chose to bring an animal into my life, I do so with a forever commitment to this animal/family member and when circumstances arise where unable to honor this commitment, it is a devastating feeling because the love and desire is there to care for them forever but sometimes love is not enough but the love is what allows us to make the decision of where our four legged family member would be happiest and healthiest! And that is the truest part of love one can have, so feel good for being such a loving and selfless person for that!!!!
We hope that we never have to re-home our Oscar but to be honest, we have seen his aggression towards our dogs increasing and fear as he gets bigger that this will become a more serious issue. We love Oscar so much and kid that he is the son we never had and will do all we can to keep him with us but I’m so grateful to have read your story and know this is something we have been right to be concerned with.
I love that you brought up that the 2nd biggest reason people rehome pet pigs is due to issues with dogs. We read so many times before getting our Oscar, that how large pigs get is the reason so many pigs end up being surrendered BUT THIS WAS THE FIRST TIME I have read relationships/aggression with other pets being an issue and what an important fact and issue this is and should be addressed more for those looking at adding a piggy to their family.
Thank you for sharing all of your experiences which are still helping us to this day!
Hi Jennifer! I just wanted to take a second and say thank you for such a kind, compassionate message. It means a lot to me that our experience with Oscar can help other pig owners and, for me, it means that something good still came from our situation even though we had to rehome Oscar. I had also not heard about dogs and pigs potentially not getting along before we got Oscar, so I wasn’t prepared for that. I hope getting that message out there helps prepare other potential owners for that possibility as they decide whether or not a pet pig is right for them.
I hope you are able to keep your Oscar and hope that his aggression toward your dogs doesn’t become more serious. I can completely understand the love you have for your Oscar and how hard it can be in that situation. Thank you for your message and for sharing your situation with your Oscar. Your kind words are greatly appreciated, and I truly wish you the best with him and hope everything works out.
After reading all the comments I feel compelled to share my experience with Peewee. We got Peewee at 5 weeks old from a local farmer who purchased a pregnant mini pig for the purpose of selling the piglets to make some money. I am not trying to be critical of him, but that’s what people do. Good breeders and bad breeders all are selling to make something. So with that being said, my piglet was only $50. Peewee was the runt and about half the size of the others. The sow was almost 2 years old and approximately 50 pounds. I never saw the father pig. We have no idea how big Peewee will be but I don’t care if he gets to be 50 pounds or 150 pounds.
It was a cold February night and Peewee was in an outdoors shed with some shelter and a heat lamp intended to keep all 9 piglets and mama warm. Peewee looked like he was the last to get any warmth. Smaller and weaker than the rest I don’t know if he would have made it too long in that environment. So we picked him up and he never made a sound. Seemed happy to get warmth.
We got home and within the first week discovered he had mange and a testicular hernia and an embilical hernia. We got rid of the mange and will be repairing the hernias and neutering him as soon as he is 6 pounds as advised by our vet.
But the point of my commenting is to express how easily Peewee has been to train and nice he is now at 4 months old. We got him the exact same play pen that Oscar has and I have found all the Oscar info to be very helpful. Peewee as not shown any aggression toward our three Chihuahua dogs at all. He does get a little loud when he knows I am in the kitchen and it is close to his meal time. He is social with new people and he goes outside with me often as long as it is over 50 degrees. He hates the cold! He is potty trained to pads and does many tricks. I send a lot of time with him.
My hope is that he stays this nice. Maybe since he was the runt that was pushed around has given him a different start then most. Whatever it is, I just wanted to put it out there that I have had a very easy time and that it is possible to raise a nice pig if you put the time in it and learn as much as you can.
So Peewee is 5 1/2 pounds now and we will be doing his neutering and hernia repairs soon. I am nervous and hope he will be ok. I will update as to how it goes.
This is really sad. I followed Oscar’s story after i unexpectedly adopted a pig. He is 12 months and I worry constantly that he will hit a phase that training and patience won’t help. Hog haven is close to my area though and yes they are amazing!
Lj, My baby just turned 1 year old as well and I share your concern- cause many people seem to have unmanageable trouble at about 2 years. I found a must-read website, which tackles this. Go to positivelypigs.com. Use the menu for the blog and decoding problem behaviors. It is lengthy and academic, but push through it because it is more accurate than all our human perception versus reality of the pig simply being a pig and us getting more from our pig if we understand and with his pigdom. One quick personal tip- don’t do “move the pig”- it is disruption and punishment for doing nothing wrong. Hope you check out that website- it is very enlightening.
Whilst i understand that you aren’t as active here anymore i just thought i say how incredibly moving reading your blog has been. I’ve read through pretty much all of it and you can see how much Oscar was loved and how much he made a difference in your lives.
I cannot imagine how hard a decision it was to re-home Oscar but sometimes making the right choice is the hardest one 🙁
Its funny how attached we as human can get to our pets, non pet people just don’t understand that.
I feel like i almost know Oscar now!
Thanks for your writing of the blog and i’ve checked out Oscar on Hog Haven’s page too.
As I was reading your blog (Thank You for starting it) and everyone’s comments, it was like EVERYTHING I have and am currently experiencing with my pet (Mr. Sexy). I was laughing and crying knowing exactly what you were going through. And then I read your update…. I just want to say…. It broke my heart for you AND Oscar. I am so sorry it didn’t work out for you and Rylee. BUT as you said, Oscar and everyone else is happier and that is all that matters. Well here is my story (I will try to keep it short – ummm.. I started writing my story and there is no way to keep it short so I will just put in my facts)… Got Mr. Sexy at 7wks, he is now 9mos at 75lbs. As everyone knows that owns or has owned a pet pig.. THEY ARE STUBBORN AND HAVE ZERO PATIENCE! My problem is… I am the same way. So I had to learn real quick to give in a lot. But I notice that he is learning to have patience. He is just like someone mentioned the terrible twos. He is spoiled (to an extent) BUT he is also LOVED!! I try to keep him on a strict diet but his daddy likes to try and give him new things. He gets fed 2% of his body weight (breakfast and dinner) plus fruits and veggies in between (that’s how the breeder was feeding him so I kept him on the same schedule since I had no idea whatsoever). Strange, but he does NOT like carrots.
I read somewhere on one of the other websites that I will ALWAYS keep in mind… “NEVER trust a bore”. I also make that aware to anyone who comes around and bring their dogs. This is his territory so keep an eye on your own animals. He does his head whipping but we have grown used to it and don’t let it offend us anymore for we know he is just letting us know he disapproves. He also shows aggression but right now it’s not that bad. He will also charge at other animals. It seems true that they pick and choose which animals they want to herd with. As much as I LOVE my piggie, I know I need to be on my toes at all times. He is a joy but certainly a handful. But then again, aren’t our children the same way as well as our other pets? I love the fact of being able to read other people’s stories and learning about other pet pigs personalities. Thanks again!
I am so glad you found Oscar a wonderful home. I have two black hogs i rescued as babies that were Horribly abused that will be 600 lbs each (Lucy & Ethel)..and i “bought” my irresponsible neighbors mini potbelly who was being severely neglected and would continuously make his way to my house to be near my pigs and little goat Annie. His name is Oliver. Ive read most of these comnents..and was surprised to read about so much ‘aggression ‘ going on.. i believe that nit everyone makes a good pig owner.. i know that some people really try…but you really have to have the right setup and have the love and respect and education to properly raise a pig. I dont think pigs belong solely in the house.. i have a horse farm and while Annie and Oliver do come in for baths and to visit…they do really well in their custom pen outside. They are spoiled rotten, all of my animals…and in the contrary…i have experienced nothing but Pure Love from All off my pigs. But you have to do it right.
Educate yourself befire adopting a pig..yes..there are thousands needing good homes… i had never owned pigs and tried to place my big girls into a sanctuary, but not one would consider taking them, even after offering a large donation and sponsoring them for life…so i am a happy pig owner. I worry about them all the time, but ive accepted the responsibility of caring for them for life.. seriously, nothing but pure Love.
I, too, have learned alot from your blog. Thank you for posting. I hope its not too painful for you to visit and contribute from time to time.
We all process grief differently. When my daughter was estranged from us for a time and wouldnt allow visits with our infant granddaughter (everything is perfect now), I had to pack her and my granddaughters pictures away. Looking at their smiling, beautiful faces made me so sad for what I had lost, the pain was unendurable. I thought I was strange, but then a friend was relating that he did the same thing after the death of his mother. As time passed, he again put her pictures back and now can smile at the good memories but when the pain of loss was fresh he couldnt enjoy seeing her healthy, happy image.
You did whats best for Oscar and Riley!
I wanted to share another source of information. Temple Grandin’s Making Animals Happy is extremely informative. She has a chapter on every animal, but the pig chapter is especially fascinating due to the intelligence level of the pig. Her plastic pigs vs disneyland pigs is a real eye opener. Pigs are extremely adaptable and social, and for that reason they can thrive in a variety of environments so long as they are intellectually challenged. I was also intrigued by the stimulation her pigs enjoyed by manipulating the shape of straw.
If you know how the animal sees the world and base your behavior with them on that, their unwanted behaviors “magically” disappear. Enjoy the journey.