A New Model for the Lifetime Care of Rescued Pigs
The loss of one of our pigs is hard on all of us at The Pig Preserve for we come to love our pigs as our children. So, it is with great sadness and a heavy heart that we announce the passing of Lucky on August 9, 2017. Lucky was found on I-75 a few years ago after he fell out of a truck. The fall shattered his left front leg, elbow and shoulder. After three lengthy stays at UT for surgeries, it was determined that Lucky's damaged leg could not be fixed...so the joints were fused so he could use his bad leg as a crutch. Lucky grew rapidly and was soon well over 1000 pounds. In his special pasture with several of our other compromised pigs, Lucky enjoyed his life. We knew that, with his compromised leg and great weight, that he would probably not live as long as a normal pig. Several weeks prior, Lucky's back and rear legs began failing him. In spite of all we could do, it was obvious that Lucky would never again be able to get up. We euthanized Lucky and buried him up next to his best friend, Finnegan....another young crippled pig who had been born with no front feet. We lost Finnegan last year and Lucky was despondent over the loss of his friend. We would like to think that Lucky and Finnegan are both together now on the other side of Rainbow Bridge...both running free and joyfully together.
Rest well, my friend...until we meet again.
It with great sadness and a deep sense of loss that Laura and I announce the death of Paddy Murphy. Paddy died about 8 hours after a lengthy surgery to remove what was apparently a malignant 10 pound cervical tumor which had spread to her lymph glands and other parts of her anatomy. She was also suffering from a closed pyometra which was unable to drain properly due to the presence of the large, cervical tumor. Paddy Murphy was our original pig and, possibly, one of the oldest surviving potbellied pigs in the country. Paddy Murphy was purchased as a 4 week old piglet many years ago and served as the impetus for the beginning of our rescue work and, eventually, the formation of the sanctuary.
While we necropsy all pigs who die at the sanctuary, Paddy Murphy will not be necropsied. We had wanted to bury her here at the sanctuary, but with our eventual relocation of the sanctuary to TN, we have decided to have Paddy's remains cremated so that she can move with us to TN. Paddy was a dear friend and a fine pig. It is because of her that many hundreds of other pigs have been rescued and saved over the years. Words can not begin to express how much we loved Paddy nor can they express how sad we are at her death. It is a day we had long dreaded....knowing that, as with all living things, she must leave us eventually.
The world is a little sadder for her leaving us, but Rainbow Bridge is very much richer today. Our thanks and heartfelt appreciation for Dr. Tom Massie, Dr. Kim Cole, Dr. Betty Myers, Dr. Derek Vandrey, Dr. Monica O'Brien and all the staff at Rose Hill Veterinary Practice in Washington, VA who tried so valiantly to save our dear Paddy. They, more than any others, know how much each pig means to us and how special Paddy was in our hearts. Dr. Tom and his wonderful staff of vets, techs and office folks have saved the lives of many, many pigs over the years. Dr. Cole, in particular, worked very hard to do what she could for Paddy and we appreciate her love, caring and professional abilities more than she will ever know.
On Tuesday, September 30, 2008, Ms. Fergy went to The Bridge. Many of you met and knew our big, beautiful, gentle red-headed Duroc. She was a wonderful pig and a dear friend. Two years ago Ms. Fergy developed a small abscess on her left front hoof. It was aggressively treated with injectable antibiotics and subsequently disappeared. About a month later it reappeared with a vengeance, involving her entire hoof and leg. A trip to UT showed that one of the bones in her foot had become infected. Surgery was performed and a temporary artificial hoof claw was made for her by Dr. Van Amstel in the first-ever surgery of this type on a farm pig. After a long recovery period, Ms. Fergy went on to live a normal, active life with her herd mates. Her bad foot grew huge, but she developed strong leg muscles to deal with her "club foot" and it certainly never slowed her down. In August of 2008, Ms. Fergy started rapidly losing weight.
In spite of being fed all her favorite foods two and three times a day, her weight loss continued. At the end of September she finally quit eating and told us that she was ready to leave us. We gave her several days to say goodbye to her herd mates, especially the older pigs she loved and slept with - Piglet, Caesar and LJ. On Tuesday afternoon, Ms. Fergy slowly made her way up from her favorite spot down by the big pond to her barn stall.
At 5:00 p.m. the vet allowed me the privilege of injecting Fergy, allowing her to leave us peacefully, quietly, and without fear. We buried Fergy up on the hill in the back pasture next to Theodore and Little Petal. In the interest of helping other pigs in the future, we removed Ms. Fergy's bad hoof and leg and transported it to UT so Dr. Van Amstel could learn all that he could about the results of his ground breaking surgery. He has told me that, in spite of its large size, her bad hoof was all a giant callous and that the surgery had been completely successful.
Interestingly, within the week, Baby Pig ended up going to UT for the same surgery for an infected hoof. However, the infection was too advanced and, in spite of the galant efforts of the UT staff, she was euthanized while still there. What we have learned from Ms. Fergy and Baby Pig will help with future similar cases.
As the circle of life continues, we received three precocious young farm pigs from UT on the Sunday before Ms. Fergy died. The three girls, now named Phoebe, Prudence and Piper, were research pigs who were spared their trip to the slaughterhouse thanks to the love and caring of Dr. Sarel Van Amstel and his staff. As they were born on a factory farm and spent their first year of life in a concrete indoor stall, it was a pure joy to watch these three girls experience sunshine and fresh air for the first time. Watching them step on knee-high grass and taste sweet clover and acorns for the first time has been a pleasure beyond words. Today they are muddy, sunburned and stiff and sore from cavorting all over the woods and pastures. But they are alive and happy...living life as pigs were meant to live.
Ms. Fergy and Baby Pig will be deeply missed by all of us here at The Preserve, humans and pigs alike. They were both truly gentle giants. We were fortunate to have known them and privileged to be able to share our life with them for the years they were with us. Our prayers go with them as they join a host of wonderful pigs who have gone before them. Hopefully, I will join them all when my race is run and my time comes.
Babe was our first farm pig. She was born with a deformed and stiff left rear leg and was thrown on the trash heap to die. One of our board members rescued her and raised her. But, when she got too big for their small place, she asked us if we could take Babe in. It was Babe who made us fall in love with the gentle giants many years ago. For a companion, we got Big Earl...our second farm pig. He was huge compared to Babe...but for his entire life he was absolutely terrified of her and would never get within ten feet of her. Even though she had a bad leg, Babe stayed active for her entire life. We eventually lost Babe to an abdominal tumor/cancer when she was around 12 years old. We have rescued and cared for hundreds of farm pigs since...but Babe was our first, and will always hold a special place in our hearts.
Although these family members may no longer be with us, they will forever be in our hearts