My friend Sue Ann suggested I visit a pot belly pig rescue in Marana, where, she said, I could get him a female. They could have babies. She emailed me a picture of a pig litter. She sent me a Netflix link so I could rent the movie Babe. That year I had forty horses on the ranch, two burros, three cats, seven dogs and this pig. I pictured raising piglets, the fun–then the anguish of trying to find them good, vegan homes. I quit returning her calls.
One morning, Pig didn’t go on his walk. He lay immobile in his stall, under his portrait, eyes closed, moaning. I wondered if he were sick, brought him breakfast in bed, and Googled his life expectancy. According to the internet, he’d already died.
When I didn’t see him the next morning, I checked the sky for vultures. I didn’t find any so I loaded the wheelbarrow with hay and set out to feed the horses. Rounding the corner of the barn, I saw Sportin’ Life lying on the ground. It’s hard to explain what that means–seeing a horse down at meal time. Injury. Illness. Anguish. Expense. Months of painstaking rehabilitation. Maybe death. Whichever, grief.
Choked with adrenaline, I watched her for symptoms: would she thrash, rise, circle, lie down again, roll? Did she have colic–a belly ache that could lead to a three-hour $10,000 trailer trip to Phoenix for abdominal surgery? Had she broken a leg?
Stethoscope around my neck–to check her pulse and listen for gut sounds–I opened the gate and saw Pig. They had made a nest of straw and sand and he lay stretched out against her, asleep.
I found them like that several mornings a week, and some afternoons. Sport lying with him — the leggy redhead and the balding fat guy who adored her.