Inspired by the local food movement and the novelty of do-it-yourself meat, a food writer in California bought a baby Hampshire pig. She planned to raise and eventually kill and eat him for the sake of an experiment in getting personal with food. A conversation with some of her vegan readers and an open mind, however, trumped her curiosity, and that little pig, named Reggie, came instead to our Northern California Shelter in Orland.
It is hard to imagine how anyone could spend time with sweet Reggie and not develop a deep affection for him. Pigs are highly intelligent animals, capable of complex thinking that rivals that of companion animals like dogs. They also have rich emotional lives, form lifelong friendships, grieve the loss of loved ones, and even argue with herd mates who upset them. All of this is true about our new friend, Reggie.
Once at our shelter, Reggie underwent treatment for a rash and parasites. After a quick recovery and a brief period of shyness, he is now thriving. He seems to understand that when his caregivers come around each night, their only intention is to bid him a restful night’s sleep. One night while a caregiver tucked him in, Reggie began to pile up fluffs of straw next to him — building a nest for his caregiver to sleep in. This is an act of love that few pigs perform for anyone outside their species.
We are so grateful that this loving, gentle boy is now part of our Farm Sanctuary family. His story highlights how frequently our society views farm animals as commodities, even outside the confines of factory farms. Only when people are introduced to farm animals as individuals are they able to see how much these animals, who are used for food, are like the cats and dogs we know a bit better. Reggie and farm animals everywhere have as much joy for life as we all do, and they are every bit as deserving of our compassion and respect.