Lucy -- that swine! -- held up traffic in Oceanside recently, but the spectacle she made of herself has saved her from becoming a Christmas ham.
The hog, all 700 or so pounds of her, was hoofing the streets the morning of Dec. 15, and a Huntington pig rescuer who read about the escapade has helped give the 4-year-old girl a porcine palace at an animal sanctuary near Syracuse.
"I thought once they captured her, she would go to a slaughterhouse," said Janice Skura, in love with pigs for 15 years, ever since a farmhand handed her a piglet still attached to its umbilical cord.
After reading about police returning the pig home, Skura called the owner, who had kept her as a pet in a dirt yard by the business where he worked.
She was 2 months old, the runt of the litter, when she was bought for a co-worker who wanted to fatten her as Christmas dinner, said her owner, who asked to be identified only by his first name, Anthony, due to business concerns.
But Anthony took her home: "I fell in love with her. A pig's got a funny face. It walks funny. It makes you laugh."
In the yard, Anthony sprayed water on her in summer and she reveled in it, running in circles. When he plopped down an old mattress and couch for her, she ripped out the filling to make a nest.
When stressed, Anthony said, he'd go to the yard to call "Lucy." "She'd pop her head out of the pile," he said. "It was so funny. There would be . . . [cotton] hanging off her nose."
But she began pushing her boundaries as she got older.
Last week, Lucy showed how smart pigs are by pushing three 50-gallon barrels filled with water away from a fence and opening the gate to explore Oceanside, her owner said.
To Skura, Lucy was out on a stroll and "did nothing wrong."
"They're the most misunderstood animals in the world," she said of pigs. "They're affectionate. You can look in their eyes, and you'll see their souls. I guess I root for the underdog, and nothing good is ever said about pigs."
When Skura visited the Oceanside hog last Friday, Lucy let her brush her hair, on her face and between her ears.
It was a reminder of why she went whole hog for pigs. "She was so beautiful. She was a gentle giant," the pig aficionado said.
Skura found The Tusk & Bristle Sanctuary for Lucy in upstate Constantia, where pigs of all poundages and breeds have been rescued from abuse and meat markets. They bed down in straw inside pig-size Quonset huts or stroll the woods. They can sip from the beaver pond.
Anthony had driven Lucy to the sanctuary in a U-Haul, where she made a round nest of the hay and fell asleep during the trip.
When they arrived, his pet pig sniffed her new enclosure and walked around, he said: "There was a pig on the other side of the fence, a big black boar. He liked looking at her. She just turned around, like a snob."
But leaving her hundreds of miles away broke his heart, Anthony said: "I feel like she's in college. She's a part of me. I raised her."