One Wednesday around 5 p.m., I was driving down my street in Smithtown. About five houses from mine, I saw a mostly white, beagle-sized pig standing alone in a neighbor’s side yard — a couple lots from her owner’s home. The pig definitely should not have been loose.
I parked and grabbed a dog leash from my backseat. From only about 50 feet, I called to the pig.
The pig waddled right on over. Thankfully, it was friendly. I carefully placed the leash around the neck and kept it snug. I am a veterinarian, but I have zero experience with pigs. They were not part of my caseload in school, and I don’t work with them. I could tell that this pig was female, but I’ve forgotten pretty much everything else about pigs since my board exams 20 years ago.
With the leash, I tried to walk the pig home. Well, Miss Piggy put on her pig brakes. I leaned down and tried to pick her up — gently touching her — and she squealed, well, like a pig. Damn loud!
I had to be somewhere and was trying not to get pig filthy, so I tried walking her again. She wouldn’t budge. I tugged once more, and she reared up, almost falling over. Not good.
Veterinary oath: Do no harm! Ugh.
I tried to pick her up again, but she wasn’t having it. More deafening squeals, and she kept dodging me. Fast and slippery, that pig.
Then I remembered I had Tic Tacs in my pocket. I shook the little box of white mints, and her little piggy eyes sparkled with interest. I opened it and brought it near her to sniff. Her lips twitched, but her legs weren’t moving. I poured two mints into my hand, and she leaned closer, her muzzle twitching, lip drooling, and she took a step — but just one.
Reluctantly, I moved my hand closer to her slobbery mouth. Never having hand-fed a pig, I was afraid she would bite me. But since she was a pet, I let her eat them. She left my hand intact, no biting! She was instantly hooked, and it was game on.
“Here, Babe!” I said.
One Tic Tac at a time, I painstakingly lured her back to the road. She moved only about three feet between each mint. It was slow going, but progress. Luckily, I had enough Tic Tacs.
Pigs are smart, so as soon as I got her to the street, she knew exactly where she was going, and eagerly led us toward her house.
Just then, I realized I had left my iPhone in the car, meaning I could not photograph my rescue. And no one was around to witness this spectacle. ️
Then, because I’m a vet, and animals apparently know that, a handsome gray and white cat walked up to us, my pig on a leash and me.
The cat rubbed against some shrubs and gave several mews, seeming to say, “Hi. Taking a nice walk with your pig? Mind if I tag along? It looks like a good time.” Then the cat followed us briefly before becoming bored, as cats will do.
Once piggy got us back to her house, we spotted a girl there jumping on a trampoline.
“Hey, excuse me,” I said, “did you lose a pig?” — not a question I ask every day.
The girl, maybe 9, came over. “Oh yeah,” she said casually. “Thanks.”
As I removed the leash, I told the girl her pig has a thing for Tic Tacs. Then I asked for the pig’s name.
“Liberty,” the girl replied.
Of course it was.
Veterinarian Regina Glanzberg is the co-owner of an animal hospital in Nesconset.