If you ask the folks working at Farm Sanctuary’s New York Shelter who some of their favorite animals are, there’s a good chance you’ll hear the names Riley and Petunia. These two cheerful pigs spent several months sharing a cozy stall here, becoming the very best of friends. Whenever their gate opened, they would rush over to greet their visitors, sniffing them curiously and vying for affection. Much of their time was devoted to rooting through the ground in search of treats (even a rock was an exciting find) or lazing in piles of straw. Whatever they were doing, they were most happy simply being together. And thanks to one of our interns, who has offered them a home for the rest of their lives, that’s how they’re going to stay.
Because Riley would never be fit to enter our main pig herd, we were concerned about finding an appropriate living arrangement for him. The neglect Riley suffered prior to his rescue left him with blindness in his right eye and a permanent head tilt. Pigs live in complex social hierarchies, and having ailments like these would make it tough for Riley to find a spot in a herd of much larger pigs. For a while, he lived with two other young pigs, Bob Harper and Kim Gordon, but when the time came for them to join the adults, Riley couldn’t follow. Fortunately, Petunia, whom we rescued in February, had recovered from surgery for an intestinal hernia and was ready to start making friends. Petunia was just four pounds when she came to us, small enough to fit in one hand. Though she’s grown tremendously, she’s still only about half the size of Riley, and just a tiny fraction the size of some of the other pigs. Not only is she too small for the main herd right now, but she also might need more surgery for her hernia. Surgery on small pigs is always a tough choice to make – it’s dangerous, because they grow so fast (up to a pound a day!) that they could rip their sutures. Hopefully the hernia will correct itself as she grows, but if she did need surgery, it might keep her from being able to stay with the main herd. As long as she’s sharing a place with just her best bud Riley, however, she’ll never have to worry about a thing.
On July 9, Farm Sanctuary staff chauffeured Petunia and Riley to the West Virginia home of their adopter. Seemingly unruffled by their long journey and arrival in strange, new surroundings, the two immediately made themselves at home and greeted their new family warmly. During her internship with us, Riley and Petunia’s adopter developed a strong relationship with them, and under her care, they’ll never have to spend a day apart from one another. Here at the New York Shelter, we came to love these happy little pigs. We miss them terribly, but we’re elated that they’ll never again have to face the horrors of abuse and neglect into which they were born. For the rest of their days, they’ll be playing together, rooting through the rich West Virginia soil, basking in the sun, and simply enjoying the good life.