This morning, after almost nine months on The Quarry Farm, one of the sanctuary’s potbellied pigs decided to expand his territory, see just what exactly makes the other side of the green door such a big deal. It took some coaxing, about an hour of Anne’s time, three apples, a banana and a handful or two of peanuts to get him all the way into the house, but, eventually, Alphonse took the plunge. Bob Barker, his father (at least, we’re pretty sure Bob’s his father; their similarities in appearance are uncanny), watched him slowly make his way in, while Beatrice (aka Little Pig) peered through the slats in her pen at all the goings-on.
Bob and Alphonse are two of the four pigs rescued from a horrific hoarding situation by representatives of the Humane Society of Allen County and the Allen County Sheriff’s office during the depths of last winter’s freeze. Their story isn’t groundbreaking news — we’ve talked about it repeatedly here — but their recovery is a source of joy for all acquainted with these two. Where Bob settled into a routine relatively quickly, Alphonse has retained near total independence, refusing most advances for even the simplest of interactions. And that’s reflective of what they found during his rescue. While none of the animals had adequate shelter, Alphonse, it seemed, had none at all. He was free of any pen, though the drifting snow had created some measure of confinement. He had worn deep trenches in the snow and roamed the area within their confines. Following his rescue, he, Bob and Greta and Grits, the other two potbellies who now live on the top of a hill down in Kentucky, were sheltered at HSoAC. Even there, Alphonse was less interested in companionship than he was in regular meals. After all of the legal issues were dealt with and out of the way, Bob and Alphonse came here. After several months of living exclusively out-of-doors, Bob discovered the pleasures of clean floors, soft blankets and nearly constant access to treats. But Alphonse, not so much. He settled into the outbuilding we’d originally constructed for the turkeys and that’s where he stayed, quite content to keep his distance. Of all of us, Rowan had the best of luck with him, though maybe it’s better said that Alphonse has been much more tolerant of her than of any others. Routinely, she was the one permitted to touch him. So it was something of a shock when we noticed him standing on the front porch about three weeks ago, and this with Rowan off to college.
Since then, Anne has worked with him daily. Talking to him, coaxing him closer to the house, to the porch to the door. This morning, all that effort payed off and he stepped inside for the first time, possibly ever, anywhere. To prove to him that he was still autonomous, captain of his own ship, we let him back out almost immediately. After, that is, as many peanuts as he could eat in the space of three minutes. It wasn’t long before he was back at the door, asking to come in. And out again. And back in.
He’s back out, out and running wherever and doing whatever within the confines of the four acres that serve as sanctuary for him and the others…but now he knows.
The door is always open.