Steve Huffman column: Pet piggy was just lookin' for lovin'

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 1, 2009

An unusual find on Appalachian Trail adds to the journey
Bob Johnson and I were backpacking the Appalachian Trail in the hills of Virginia a few years ago when we passed a pen inside which a lone pig was housed.
I met Bob a hundred years ago when we were students at Appalachian. Bob lived down the hall from me. Now he lives in Asheville. We get together occasionally to insult one another and trade lies as part of a male-bonding ritual.
On this particular afternoon, the pig was snorting excitedly as Bob and I approached. He’d apparently heard us coming a long while before we spotted him.
When hiking, Bob and I are constantly looking for excuses to take a break, so upon discovery of the pig we deemed this an appropriate reason to stop and remove our packs. Bob went over to speak to the creature while I took a seat, leaning against a tree.
Bob seemed to be having way too much fun with the pig so I felt a need to interrupt.
“Pigs are nasty, disgusting animals,” I said, not really believing what I was saying, but merely looking for something to goad Bob into a response.
It worked.
“They’re not nasty at all,” Bob replied. “If kept in sanitary conditions, pigs are very clean animals.”
Bob continued on with something about a pig’s intelligence being higher than that of a dog’s, but by then I’d tuned him out, closing my eyes and trying to forget we had several more miles to hike.
Eventually Bob turned his attention from the pig so I wandered over to have a look. I had to admit he was a friendly little guy. He enjoyed having his back and snout rubbed, snorting contentedly when I did so.
There was an apple tree that hung partially over his pen and the pig had eaten every piece of fruit that fell within his reach. But there were plenty more apples on the ground outside the fencing, so I picked some up and tossed them over.
The pig snorted happily.
Eventually I stepped over the fence and into the pig’s pen. Apparently starved for attention, he seemed to enjoy this more than anything.
The pig was fairly agile, nothing like what I’d expected. He wanted someone to play with him, nudging my calf in order to get me to move.
We played a game of pig tag, or whatever it is you do with swine. I’d do a head feint and the pig would come after me.
I enjoyed him. If I’d been closer to home and had a leash or whatever it is you use to walk a pig, I’d have been tempted to steal him. Or at least see if I could find his owner and ask if he was interested in selling Mr. Pig.
As it was, Bob and I finally slung our backpacks across our shoulders and returned to the trail.
“See?” Bob said as the pen disappeared around a bend behind us, “pigs aren’t so bad.”
“They’re nasty, disgusting animals,” I replied.
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When not stirring up wildlife along the Appalachian Trail, short-timer Steve Huffman writes for the Post.