Teacup or Big Gulp


Sheri Glantz, Special To The Jewish Light

It happens to most children.

They decide they want a pet of their very own, perhaps a hamster, gerbil, cat, dog, bird, or goldfish.  As parents, we know that their promises to love it, be responsible for it, train it, feed it, and clean up after it are well-intentioned because we likely used the same ploy when we were growing up – so we understand what that really means.

When my daughter informed me that, while she did love our family dog, Trixie, she yearned to have a pet for which she could take full responsibility, I wondered:

“How bad could it be?”

Believing that our household could accommodate a small critter of some sort, I asked:

“What type of pet were you thinking of?”

“A pig!”

“A what?!”

“A pig! Just a small one.  You know, one of those ‘teacup’ pigs that stays really small!”

Remembering the importance of not reacting to her, sometimes, eccentric ideas, (Cue the blog post, “You Wanna Be a What??), I simply instructed my daughter to do some research on the pros, cons, trials, and tribulations of pig ownership.  Taking the directive seriously, she wrote an essay on why it would be a good idea to undertake this role.

Here are some things she gleaned from her exploration:

* Pigs make good pets.

* They can be litter box trained and housebroken.

* They can be walked on a leash.

* They are social.

* Teacup pigs, based on photos, are very small.

* They are not picky eaters.  In fact, they will eat anything anytime anywhere.

While she made some good points, I was not yet convinced that my home could be transformed into the Hundred Acre Wood. Hence, I said I would consider her study on pig parenting and let her know.

Shortly after presenting her pig dissertation, I happened upon an article in the newspaper about a woman who brings her pet teacup piglet to her upscale, clothing consignment shop each day. What else was could I do, but reach out to this lovely lady to inquire about bringing my daughter in to discuss pig possession?

Arriving at the quaint boutique, we were greeted by Julie, the proprietor.  Trotting close behind, wearing a pint-sized checkered, pastel colored dress, was “Chloe” – the teacup pig. All eight pounds of light pink skin, wiry white hair, random gray speckles, a bubblegum colored nose, and a sassy little swagger, was trustingly advancing towards us, no doubt assuming we had arrived with some nibbley bits to feed her.  Equipped with lettuce from home, my daughter offered it to her dream pet to help pave the way towards friendship, as Julie and I watched our respective “charges” became acquainted – Chloe, now nestled snuggly in the lap of a girl who wanted so badly to love a pig.

It was time to get down to business:

“Julie, my daughter believes that a pig is the right pet for her.  What advice can you give her?”

Turning towards my young teen, she asked:

“Are you ready for 24/7 obligation?”


“It’s like having a perpetual two-year-old at your beck and call – All. The. Time!”


“I’m just telling it like it is!”

Seeing my daughter’s enthusiasm for sole proprietorship of a pig beginning to waver, I said to Julie:

“Perhaps you need a pig walker? Maybe even a pig sitter when you go out of town?”

“I would love that! I can’t always leave the store to walk the pig and she does need her exercise….”

Thus, each afternoon, we would go to Julie’s shop, fortified with the treat of leafy greens, strap on Chloe’s pink harness and leash, and set out to go pig walking. Occasionally, we let Chloe run loose, unrestrained by her tether, but motivated to stay nearby with the promise of more lettuce. People looked out windows, stopped their cars, waved, honked, and gave exuberant thumbs-up seeing the girl with the teacup pig.

A couple of months into this endeavor, Julie was ready to let my daughter pig sit for the weekend. We welcomed Chloe into our house, introduced her to Trixie – who couldn’t understand the invasion of this intruder. (As long as she didn’t think, “Mmmmm! Smells like bacon!”, I wasn’t too worried.)

This sweet little bundle of pink was, indeed, housebroken and litter box trained. She, indeed, was social. She, indeed, loved to eat and while doing so, sounded…..well….like a pig! Slurping and smacking with each bite of her canned pumpkin, her rosy face becoming a smear of orange.

Wherever my daughter went, Chloe shadowed her. Yes, even at bedtime, the little teacup pig slept with her caregiver, burrowing under the covers each night. She was a hit the night we took her for an outing to Fro-Yo. She scored “love” at tennis matches. She was actually assimilating into our world quite comfortably.

Pig walking and pig sitting continued for some time. My daughter, though, became busier with school and social activities. After a hiatus of a few months, Chloe’s absence from her friend’s life was heavily felt. A quick text to Julie to invite Chloe for a sleepover was answered promptly and affirmatively.

Arriving at the store, we were greeted not by a teacup anything, but rather by a “Big Gulp” trundling towards us. I would estimate that we came noses to snout with some 50 pounds of….not-a-teacup-pig-anymore! Hardly recognizable in this unexpected form, a forced smile crept to my daughter’s face. Reading both her expression as well as her mind, she was saying:

“Who are you and what did you do with my tiny friend?!”

Collecting all of Chloe’s overnight gear, we lugged her to the car, tumbled her in, and headed home. No longer could this sweet creature fit easily on a lap, with her head nuzzled in the crook of an arm. The funny thing was, she didn’t realize it! She wanted to do the same things at our house that she had done the countless other times that she visited – including tunneling her way under the covers in my daughter’s bed.

I watched with a bit of a lump in my throat, as my child observed the shenanigans of what she must have felt was an overgrown version of a “forever” image of her precious little Chloe.

Softly, I said:

“She sure looks different, now, huh?”

“Yeah.  I didn’t think she would get so big.”

“It’s always hard seeing our little beings grow up (and up and up and out!). Remember that, even though she doesn’t look the same, she’s still your Chloe and I hope that you make sure that she still feels loved, cared for, and as welcome as she always has in our house.”

We made it through the sleepover and delivered Chloe back to her “mom”. What I didn’t tell my daughter was that I had done some investigating of my own.

According to Richard Hoyle, of The Pig Preserve – a  pig rescue sanctuary in Jamestown, Tennessee:

“There are 15 – 20 breeds of mini pigs, and all of them are 150 – 180 pounds at full size. A breed of very tiny pigs doesn’t exist in nature.”

I would never have shared this information with my outside-the-box thinker before allowing her to have that year with Chloe.  My daughter is someone who needs to learn and find things out in her own way, in her own time – a phenomenon to which I refer as “walking through the fire”. I have always understood that about her.  If I had let on all that I knew, she may have always wondered:

“How bad could it be?”

Our household did expand enough to allow my spunky girl to experience the joy of being a part-time pig mom. She also experienced the swell of emotion that goes along with the inescapable transformation of something/someone that takes place over a period of time.

Chloe was still the one who provided her with the opportunity of loving and caring for the pig she had so desperately wanted.  It was just the exchange of a teacup for a “Big Gulp” that was so hard to swallow.