Adopted piglet enjoys the good life

Posted Aug. 20, 2010, at 8:13 p.m.

HUDSON, Maine — One day this past June, Kathleen Talbot walked out of her front door to welcome into her country home yet another hungry mouth to feed.

And hungry he was. Talbot quickly discovered that Winston Johnathan Talbot, as he came to be known, is a real pig — a Yorkshire mix, to be exact.

“He has at least 18 10-ounce bottles [of milk] a day,” Kathleen said of her companion’s voracious appetite.

Winston is the newest tenant at Little Wanderers Animal Adoption, the animal rescue center Talbot operates on the Corinth Road. Over the past 15 years, the licensed shelter has been home to numerous chickens, horses, pigs and dogs, all animals in search of a safe, warm place to call home.

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The only survivor of a litter of eight piglets, Winston arrived at the center at just 12 hours old and, now a 70-pound 8-week-old, he has only just begun to grow.

While Talbot expects Winston’s eventual weight to exceed 400 pounds, he need not fear the slaughterhouse. For a pig, Winston truly leads a pampered life. After a long day of swimming in the pool and exploring in the garden, he rests his blue-painted toenails either in Talbot’s bed or his own corner of the barn under a heat lamp.

Between his regular 18-bottle regimen of synthetic lamb’s milk, he occasionally enjoys treats such as cheese, table scraps and V-8 Splash, which Talbot said gives him a headache if served too cold.

“He gets like an ice cream headache and just sits there like a drunk,” Talbot said. “He’s a real sissy.”

And even though his stubby legs may not be quite tall enough for him to reach the toilet, Winston never makes a mess, even while riding in the car.

“He’s spotless. If we’re in the car and he has to go, he screams,” Talbot said.

For a pig, Winston actually spends quite a bit of time riding around in the back seat of Talbot’s car. He regularly accompanies her to church, where he is greeted after the day’s service by a rush of children eager to play with him. Twice a week, the pair make the trip to Winston’s favorite hangout spot in front of the Wal-Mart in Bangor.

“I think he should be a greeter,” Talbot said, adding that “whenever anybody sees him, they squeal — just like a pig.”

Despite being under Talbot’s care for only a couple of short months, Winston has already outgrown seven harnesses. Eventually, Talbot expects to find the refrigerator tipped on its side — the result of Winston’s rapid growth and mischievous nature.

“He discovered the vegetable garden yesterday; he decided he likes my watermelons,” Talbot said. “He snuck up behind me in the garden and pushed me over. I told him to watch it or I’d tell him where bacon comes from.”

Through all of the nighttime feedings and constant care, Talbot would not even think about giving up her well-mannered little pig. She could tell from the very first day that Winston was an especially refined pig, a judgment that contributed to the selection of his rather regal-sounding name.

“I named him [Winston Johnathan] because he is just such a gentleman pig,” Talbot said.