We all need something or someone in our lives to keep us going, to make us want to get out there and live, even when living feels like a hard thing. For years, Angie lived for the company of her friends Jethro and Tina. These three pigs were each other’s constant companions and relished every moment they shared. But Tina’s death in 2006 and Jethro’s two years later left Angie, by that time one of our oldest pigs, alone.
We tried to introduce her to new friends, but she would have none of it. Pig after pig was rejected with a bite on the rump or a run around the stall. Though previously a serious lover of the outdoors, Angie also lost interest in going out to the pasture. We were troubled to see our friend, who had always been so happy, stuck in this winter of discontent. Angie just wasn’t herself. But then came spring – and with it Fiona.
Angie and Fiona's first day together.
Fiona was dropped off at the shelter along with another very sick piglet named Linus. Hours after their arrival, Linus passed away at the Cornell University Hospital for Animals, his lungs too damaged by untreated pneumonia. Fiona, like Angie, had lost her closest friend. But the tiny piglet had a bold heart. Though she was only a fraction of the older pig’s size, Fiona showed no fear the day she met Angie. She seemed to realize that Angie needed her as much as she needed Angie. Angie seemed to realize it too, and their meeting worked a miraculous change.
Just a few days after Fiona entered her world, Angie ventured outdoors with her new charge. The two spent hours basking in the sun, rooting up the dirt and rolling in the mud. They did the same thing the next day, too. And the next. Angie flourished under the influence of her youthful new friend. Even at the age of 11 and living with arthritis, she seemed happier than she had ever been. Fiona blossomed as well, becoming a confident young pig. The inseparable two enjoyed the entire spring and summer together. They even welcomed the addition of a third friend: Tim, a pig whose leg problems prevented him from living with the main herd. Fiona’s acceptance of Tim seemed to allow Angie to accept him too, and the three pigs became a family.
Angie and Fiona exploring the pasture together.
These sweet days, however, could not last. As summer became fall, Angie’s health began to fail. Old age comes far too quickly for industry-born pigs, who are selectively bred to grow to unsustainable weights. In the end Angie could no longer get up on her own, her back legs and hips having finally succumb to degenerative arthritis, and we made the difficult decision to let her go.
Fiona seemed to know that her time left with Angie was short. She stayed very close to Angie the last few days of her life and slept tightly against her. On the day that we all said goodbye to our amazing friend, her little sidekick was right there with her to make her feel safe and to reassure her that even in the end she was not alone.
Angie is all smiles in Fiona's company.
Fiona gave Angie a reason to keep going, and more: She gave her a reason to accept the world, and the happiness it can offer, back into her heart. Angie’s passing has been hard for us, but we can see that the love she and her friend shared lives on in Fiona, who spreads it to the pigs and people around her. And that gives us all one more reason to get up in the morning.