Abandoned pig loves her life on two feet

Petunia the pig with her mouth open with a food bowl and some lettuce in front of her
Petunia’s back legs don’t move well, but her days are so full of cozy cuddles and piggy piles that she doesn’t even notice.
By Sarah Thornton

Two parts sunshine, one part mud, lettuce to taste, and a heaping helping of good friends. That is Petunia’s recipe for the perfect day. Whether she’s settling in for an extended nap with her porcine pals or pushing past the gate for a walk down the dirt road, she is simply happy enjoying life at her own leisurely pace. She wants to be the center of attention, and with her cute face and affectionate personality, she tends to get her way.

But things weren’t always so easy for Petunia. The sweet pig was once abandoned by her person, left behind when they suddenly moved without notice. When the landlord hadn’t heard from the family or received rent in some time, she visited the home only to find it empty, a pig and a horse standing outside.

Petunia pulled herself along with her front legs, and the horse, Willie, had a noticeable limp. They couldn’t stay there, alone, and they clearly needed medical attention. The pair landed at Best Friends where they could get the help and care they needed.

Photo by Molly Wald

Just keep moving

Arriving at the Sanctuary, the barnyard buddies were immediately checked out by clinic veterinarians. The cause of Willie’s limp was relatively simple to pinpoint and treat: He had a nail in his foot. He needed to go to a specialist in Las Vegas to remove it, but once he recovered, a vet tech who’d fallen in love with his gentle disposition adopted him.

Petunia’s condition, on the other hand, was a little more unique.

Though much of her early life is a mystery, at some point when she was younger, she suffered a spinal injury. Nerve damage was seemingly left untreated, and the black-and-white piglet had to learn how to move all over again. She figured out that she could pull herself along with her front legs while her back legs dragged along behind her, and that got her through.

[Pampering for a superhero pig]

Petunia became so used to moving around on only two feet that, even once her back had healed on its own, she kept scooting. When veterinarians examined her, they found no physical reason she could not stand up and walk. In fact, when she was particularly determined to get somewhere, Petunia would do just that — before plopping back down to her old tried-and-true method of mobility.

With the way she moved and the way her body had developed, vets were not comfortable spaying her. They feared the position she would need to be in during surgery might make her condition worse. There was also concern about keeping the resulting incision site clean and safe, as it would be right where her body normally met the ground.

All the other residents of Marshall’s Piggy Paradise were spayed or neutered, though, so there was no worry about surprise piglets. And soon, caregivers introduced Petunia to her new pasture pals, a drift of other pigs with their own unique medical or behavioral situations.

Petunia fit right in and couldn’t have been happier.

Photo by Molly Wald

A laid-back life

Because pigs are social prey animals, they do best when they have a good “boss” to decide where it’s safe to eat and sleep, as well as to keep the peace among the group and make any other important decisions. And Petunia quickly took up that mantle when she moved in.

“She’s a really good boss and just wants harmony in her group,” says Rosalie Wind, one of Petunia’s caregivers. “She loves (the other pigs). They love sleeping in a big pile together, all four of them.”

[Pig picks his person, takes his boss with him]

When she’s not guiding her group in afternoon sunbathing snuggle sessions, Petunia likes to watch for visitors. Horses and goats, staff members’ dogs and the resident barn cat are all welcome to hang out, as far as she’s concerned. But what really gets her excited are human guests; not only do they have the best treats, they’re also excellent at scratching her belly, back and ears. Petunia would happily flop over on her side for hours just to be fawned over. And she does.

If there’s an event happening in Marshall’s Piggy Paradise, Petunia wants to be involved. She’ll snort happily for impromptu dress-up photoshoots and munch away on the leftovers of a pumpkin-carving contest. No matter what’s happening, Petunia becomes the life of the party.

“She’s pretty much the happiest pig I’ve met here,” Rosalie says. “She’s just the sweetest, cuddliest, loveliest girl.”

Though her past was a traumatic unknown, Petunia is now safe and thriving. She’ll have you know that she’d like to request some more lettuce, though.

Photo by Molly Wald

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