National Pigs Day Meet the pigs in my life

Yesterday was National Pig Day. As soon as I realised, I decided to highlight some of the many stories that show the emotional and intellectual intelligence in pigs and the special qualities of  Gavin, Julia, Strawberry and Texas, the pigs that I have been lucky enough to share my home with over many years.


My dear Gavin was so clever. I used to feed him on my way to work most mornings. I would get his food in a bucket tip it into his food container, put the bucket back and head to work.
One day I was running late. I put the bucket down, got in my car and raced to work. I got home to find that he had used his very powerful nose to lift a gate and sit it on the bucket to go under the fence and enjoy the lush grass.

Gavin was a rescue. He had lived in a suburban back yard ever since he was a piglet, I can only imagine the destruction he would have created in that yard as he got bigger!
His story of looking for a new home was in the Herald Sun. A friend knowing how much I loved pigs asked my permission to put in an adoption request on my behalf. She was told that they were inundated with people who wanted him but took her details. She had grown up on her father’s pig farm and had handled pigs all her life. They rang her the next day saying that none of the people who had visited him were suitable. They all lived on suburban blocks. We went to meet him the next day and drove him home the day after. I didn’t have experience with pigs either, but I had 20 acres and lots of experience with large animals such as horses and cows.
The Herald Sun wanted to do a follow up story on his new home and sent a photographer. He took hundreds of photos encouraging Gav to perform for him. After a while I asked him to stop, I could tell that Gav was over it. No, he didn’t have the perfect shot yet. The next shot, Gav ran up to him and with his tusk tore his jeans from waist to ankle. No broken skin, just an almighty scare. The photographer decided he has enough Afterall. Two more time over the years that he lived with me, Gav tore peoples pants if they annoyed him enough. Such sharp implements, but never a scratch on the skin.

Photo of Gavin and I that was published in the Herald Sun

Photo of Gavin and I that was published in the Herald Sun. His tusk is highlighted!

Many years later we took my mother to the same animal shelter to adopt a dog. She mentioned Gavin to them and there was only one person who had worked there during Gavin’s tenancy, but everyone knew of him. The stories of his stay, his incredible escapes, and general naughtiness were legion. They could not believe that he was still alive and that he was very much part of the family. He died about a year later and is still sadly missed.

Food focused

One time we were all in the garden enjoying ourselves, when after a few hours, Gav was ready to go back into his yard. I continued working in the garden with Paris my pony roaming free. After an hour or so Gavin started screaming at the top of his voice. I dropped what I was doing and ran to him. He sometimes got a tusk caught in something and this was the heartbreaking noise he made. As I got closer to his yard I could see that he was standing in the middle, not caught, seemingly unafraid.  I asked what was wrong and he tossed his head over his shoulder. I looked in the direction he indicated and saw Paris had knocked the lid off his feed bin. I put her in her paddock and he relaxed and went to sleep.

When I opened the door first thing in the morning to go and feed everyone Gav would call to me with such a deep rumbling sound I could feel it vibrate under my feet many yards from where he was. I always felt that this was love, (and maybe he was signing to me without me realising).


Gavin enjoying his life

I wanted a companion for Gavin. My farrier had a client who needed to rehome their pig. The only catch, he could not be separated from the miniature pony he grew up with. That is how Basil and Toby arrived at my place with the great assistance of my dear friends Pauline and Emma. When Basil came out of the float he took off with Pauline and I calling to him and also running after him. He swam across a big dam came out the other side went under the fence and was gone into the  thousands of acres of the Wombat Forest and the more thousands of acres of adjoining  pine plantations. We all called and searched for him in the wilderness. Pauline was determined that she could bring him home, and that is how we lost Pauline! Multiple fruitless phone calls to police for assistance (on what turned out to be a moonless night and the coldest winter night in something like 50 years). Pauline did not have a phone, jacket or anything to make her ordeal easier. Emma walked into a barbed wire fence ripping her clothes, hands and face and fell into a swamp that we could not see in the dark. Luckily, as Pauline was wandering the pine plantation in pitch black, she saw a light in the distance and headed towards it for hours until reaching a house in the middle of nowhere where she could ring us to pick her up just before midnight. A huge relief, but sadly no Basil. The next morning I woke very early, worried for Basil  I went outside and there he was sound asleep on the ground underneath Toby.

 Unfortunately, getting a companion for Gavin, just highlighted how uncompanionable Gav was. He hated Basil and was not fond of Toby. After many failed attempts to incorporate them into our family, Basil and Toby went to live with friends where they are treated like royalty.

Toby and Gavin


I fell off my horse resulting I n the need for a hip replacement. While on crutches post operation, I was outside with the animals. My dog Meg had a friend over and they were playing chasy, Meg’s favourite game. She was busy looking over her shoulder to make sure Kali was still chasing her rather than looking at where she was going and crashed into me. I fell to the ground, crutches going in different directions and had no idea how I was going to get back on my feet.
Meg glanced at me in an apologetic way and kept on playing. Strawberry, who was in an entirely different part of the garden, somehow knew that there was a crisis happening .    Ran to me vocalising his distress and stood beside me nudging my arm to let me know ow that I could use his back to lever myself up off the ground. He has since helped me in this and other ways several more times. 

Strawbs as a baby soon after he came to Heart Centred Reiki

Shortly before Strawberry turned two, we got Texas who was three months old. At the time Strawberry was living in the laundry and my plan was to move Tex in with him. However, Strawberry seemed frightened by Tex (who was his nephew) and refused to have anything to do with him. He was moved outside into his yard. After a few nights when Tex was settling for the night, Strawberry came to the laundry door. I invited him in and within a short time they had settled down together and were from then on, always together. One night soon after, I woke to hear singing. I could not work out where it came from, then realised that it came from the laundry. Strawberry was singing to Texas! I googled and found that all pigs sing, and mother pigs sing to their babies.

Strawberry and Texas became inseparable

Julia, named for Australia’s first woman Prime Minister, Julia Gillard who she shared a birthday with loved and adored my adopted Greyhound Issy. She wanted to play with her and Issy obliged to a point. She would play cautiously for a while and then go inside to get away from her. Julia was always respectful, but Issy was never absolutely certain of her.

Strawberry is so sociable amongst his animal and human family. When he goes into the paddock, he greets every other animal there. The dogs, Paris the pony and when we had Cuba (a horse that we do not have any longer) she would never share her food with anyone. But as soon as she saw Strawberry, she would move over to make room for him to share her food. He doesn’t just greet them; he stays for a chat.