Updated: February 11, 2014 at 6:18 am
A stylish, squealing, tail-wagging pot-bellied pig had my wife wondering if we should add a pig to our menagerie.
Diamond is the "greeter pig" at Furr & Finns pet store, 7685 McLaughlin Road, Suite 120, in Falcon. Diamond enchanted my wife - and apparently many others who visit the store.
Ted and Kathy Mische opened the store, which sells pet food and supplies and small animals such as fish and birds, in December. They had gotten Diamond a couple of months earlier - they thought for some time about getting a pig and decided one would be great as a store mascot. That idea has worked out "really, really well," Ted says. Diamond has become a major attraction, and Ted has heard that area teachers have even handed out assignments related to Diamond, like "Who is Diamond the pig?"
Diamond is about 6 months old and weighs about 30 pounds; she's about full grown. You're likely to see her wearing a dress. That's not just a fashion statement, because the dress is also a harness.
"We need that for her," Ted says. "Pigs, you can't really pick them up; they really, really don't like getting picked up." And a collar doesn't work, he says, because a pig's neck is bigger than its head.
Diamond, he says, is very food-motivated; you can train her to do pretty much anything you want with food as a reward. At the store, they let customers give her treats, but they have to be healthy ones, Ted says; he doesn't want Diamond to, well, pig out. Pretty much any fruit or vegetable will do, except for citrus, which he says isn't good for pigs. Kale has been the treat of choice on my visits to the store.
The Misches live in Black Forest; Diamond goes with them to the store in the morning and returns home with them in the evening. She sleeps in a kennel, but otherwise she usually has the run of the house - unless she has gotten herself in trouble and is in a timeout. "She can be a little pesky," Ted says; she likes to get into trash cans, for example. She's litter trained, but also will go outside to go to the bathroom, just like a dog.
She's also affectionate, Ted says. She'll jump up on his lap - or squeeze into a warm, cozy spot behind him on the couch.
Kathy had pigs before. But they were "real" pigs, about 300 pounds each, and were livestock, not pets - "though we treated all our livestock as pets," she says. The pigs' names were Sizzle and Fry; she's quick to say that she did not name them.
In Colorado Springs, you can own a pot-bellied pig; the City Council in 2006 changed a century-old law that barred the possession of swine to allow pot-bellied pigs. Other pigs - say Sizzle and Fry - aren't allowed.
If you live in the country, however, and you're looking to own a plus-sized swine, Wilbur the pig, a longtime resident of Black Forest Animal Sanctuary, is up for adoption. Tracy Van Pelt, director of Black Forest Animal Sanctuary, says would-be owners are carefully scrutinized: Wilbur is to be cared for and loved, not butchered.
I've seen Wilbur and he is a big pig - maybe as big as our mule. Tracy doesn't know how many hundreds of pounds he weighs.
At age 13 - "which is unheard of," Tracy says - he's well into his golden years. He'll sit if you ask him to and even used to shake his hoof when he was little. "Wilbur's actually pretty funny," Tracy says.
Funny or not, we're not ready for a Wilbur-sized addition at our place. And we've decided no pot-bellied pig for us, either: We figure we can always visit Furr & Finns and get our dose of piggie cuteness. And we promise to buy something while we're there.
Bill Radford and his wife live in the east of Colorado Springs with a menagerie that includes one horse, one mule, two goats, two dogs, two cats, a half-dozen chickens, two rabbits, two guinea pigs and two parrots. Contact him: Twitter @billradfordiii, gazettebillradford on Facebook. Follow his blog at blogs.gazette.com/thecountrylife.