Monday, November 28, 2011

The Value of Piggy Playtime

Pigs are said to be the third most intelligent species in the world, ranking right behind primates and cetaceans(whales and dolphins). Little Dover may have been the runt of the litter, but she didn’t miss out on a single cell in the brains department. She figured out in no time where the gate to the xpen was. The first day, she just ran to the fence whenever she saw me. By the next morning, she ran right to the gate. Yesterday she realized that if she pushed and pushed and pushed, the bungy cords that keep it closed would give juuuuust enough for her to slip through. We now use caribiner clips instead. It takes a bit longer to open and close the gate, but at least I won’t wake up to find a piggy, whose primary activity seems to be peeing and pooping, running loose on my living room carpet.

She spends a fair bit of time outside of the xpen, in the mudroom with me. The mudroom is separated from the rest of the house by a dog gate. While she plays in the mudroom, I do mundane tasks like cleaning her pen, running laundry back and forth, taking her dishes to the kitchen. She sees me go through the dog gate. It took her all of about three observations to decide she would test her luck getting through the bars. She almost made it – and would likely have become stuck, head one side, belly the other, if I hadn’t stopped her. I now stretch the x-pen across the gate when Dover the Explorer is on the prowl.

So.... just what does one do to keep a wee little piggy entertained and meet the growing needs of her Very Big Brain? Most piglets her age would be rooting outside in the dirt and grass, looking for tasty bugs and worms and other things to eat. They would be running around with their siblings, stopping for a snooze in the sun or a roll in the mud, chasing butterflies and playing with falling leaves. But Dover is still too wee and vulnerable to expose her to the great outdoors.

Pigs may be very smart, but they also have very short attention spans. The toys she enjoyed for a short while yesterday and the day before – the I-cube and Wag-O twisty and the big round ball – are boring to her today.

She tastes the doormat and boot tray, nibbles my shoes, snuffles around the freezer for dust bunnies. She redecorates her xpen by shoving her crate over here, her blanket over there, and then does it all over again. She tips the water dish, shreds the pee pad, and checks in with me every few minutes to see if I happen to have anything for her.

I pull out some dog toys she hasn’t seen, and that keeps her busy for ... oh ....all of two minutes.

Hmm...what's this?  Oh, toys.  Boring!

I fix up a tray with some washed river rocks and tuck cheerios among them so she can root. That keeps her busy for perhaps five minutes.

Then she decides lifting up the corner of the tray with her snout and letting it bang back down is more fun. For perhaps 30 seconds.

I pull out some tiny dog clothes – they are awaiting transport to Broken Promises Rescue. I find an outfit that fits perfectly, but Dover is less than cooperative about modeling it and goes into a full fledged Drama Queen Routine. I’ve seen her wearing a Santa suit in the SPCA ad in the paper, but still I fear causing porcine heart failure, so I quickly remove it. So much for doing a fashion photo shoot for the porcine crowd.

Get if off! Get it off!  I iz NOT a fashion model!

I suggest she hang her Christmas stocking on the door of her crate,

Deah Santa, Fer Christmas I wud like a forever home!

...and she wants a little tree as well, though her interest in it lasts only seconds.

Nuffin' to eat on here.  You'd think she'd hang some gingerbread cookies or sumthin'.

I give her a few sheets of newspaper and she shakes them vigorously and races around the room waving one over her head like a flag. For all of 30 seconds.  I invite the animal-loving teen next door over to meet her. Dover becomes very quiet and shy when visitors appear, but it gives her a new scent to investigate. For a minute or two.

I sit on the floor and she climbs all over me, nibbling at my shirt, tasting my hair, tugging on my pants, nosing her snout under my arm.

Auntie Jean!  I can pinch an inch!

Eventually, she curls up on my lap for a nap.

We can cuddle?

I put her back in the xpen and leave the room. I’m hardly out the door before the squealing and squeaking, the barking and snorting, the oinking and crowing and noisy pig hollering begins once more.

I warm up some goat's milk and pigmush and feed her, even though it’s only two hours since she last ate. I leave again, and after a few minutes of histrionics she calms down and is fast asleep.

The toys and rocks and cheerios and clothes, the furniture and dustbunnies and my grey hair may not have been high value entertainment from her point of view, but the entertainment value to me was ......priceless.


MrsB said...

I see a pig in your future...just sayin....

Karen said...

She sounds exhausting! Sooo cute. How about a treat dispensing ball?

georgia little pea said...

oh jean...please keep Dover. she's so sweet. now i really feel bad about liking bacon and ribs :p

i think a short attention span and intelligence go together. that's what i read anyway. people [or pigs] get bored with something quickly because they've already figured it out.

i love that picture of Dover with the little tree. it's beeeoootiful.

Funder said...

She is just super cute. I think she sounds like Beavis and Butthead when she gets excited though!

Anonymous said...

I dunno!

Great post Jean on how to keep a brilliant mind occupied. However, I'm not sure that Diva, I mean Dover, really only possesses that short an attention span... I get the feeling that you've been outsmarted and the score is more like Dover:147 - Jean:2

You might have to up the ante just a bit more. :-)

Seriously, thanks for sharing her antics with us, I don't know how you're going to let the SPCA/Sandi have her back.


Jean said...

Ellen you are probably right about Dover outsmarting me - though it might be more like Dover 1.5 million, Jean 0

Ms. Diva Dover will be going back to her regular foster home today. It isn't practical for me to keep her here longterm - though if someone would like to donate about $300,000, the five acre property I rented in Mission is up for sale and I would certainly take on piggies again if I could afford the farm! LOL