May 5, 2010

Pig Plays Hooky From School!

garyBy Gary Metivier

Yes, you read it correctly. My pet pig Frankie, got out of going to school. She didn’t fake a temperature by putting the thermometer in hot water. She didn’t pretend to have a sour stomach by moaning and groaning. She didn’t even try to convince me with one of those “I’m so sick’ voices our kids use to get their way. Frankie just flat out refused to go to school.

Before I get too far and leave you thinking I’ve lost a few marbles, I’d better explain why I have a pet pig in the first place. A couple of years ago, when I getting ready to release my newest children’s book “A Hog Ate My Homework!”, I thought a pig would be a great way to help present the stories at schools. My wife was convinced I had been working too hard, both at work at KWQC and with my children’s books which help raise money to send children with cancer to camp. My thought was that having a pig come out at the end of the assembly and walk around to the beat of the song “Who Let The Hogs Out?-Who?Who? Who?” would create a memorable moment that the children would never forget.

pig2Frankie is officially on her ‘retirement tour’ — kind of like Cher did at the end of her live performance tour — only Frankie is a little less revealing and a lot more conservative. But we had an appearance commitment that had been in the planning for months. A big 4 -schools-in-one-day booking in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. I had to take the day off work and get ready for the long drive with a pig as my co-pilot. That was when the trouble began.

The night before a school visit is always a busy time. Not only do I have to check the wagon for all the props I need, check the quantity of dum-dum pops to giveaway at the end (I would need about 1400 for this big day), and check the directions and time of each school visit —— but I also need to prep the pig.

How do you prep a pig? I’m glad you asked. Frankie’s ‘room’ is actually kept a little cleaner than my teenaged son’s. Problem is — Frankie doesn’t take long showers like he does. In fact, she’d much rather roll in the mud or dirt than roll into the bathroom and get ready to impress. So, it’s up to me to convince my 90 pound pig to get into a big bucket of warm water. Usually I convince her to come into the house with something she can’t refuse—food! She is a pig after all. A sliced apple seems to do the trick. (I know what you are picturing, a pig with an apple in its mouth spread out on a platter.)


I lure Frankie into the house with the help of my wife Pam. I then have to try to get behind the pig, pick her up and lower her wiggling belly and four legs into an oversized storage bucket partly filled with warm water. She generally grumps a bit until I drop some apples and pig pellets into the water for her to hunt down. That serves two purposes—keeps her busy and cleans her snout.

But on this day—the scrub brush and dandruff shampoo we use to soothe her dry white skin to make it pink again—would never make it onto her back. We noticed she had a cut behind her ear. We saw her rubbing against a tree stump, the corner of our wooden deck, and our lawn chairs. The hot weather was making her skin dry and itchy. But what I didn’t see, until we got very close, was that she had actually cut a small hole behind her right ear and it started to bleed pretty good. She was rubbing it, not with her hands of course, because she has no hands. So she uses her sharp hooves.

My wife is a nurse. She cares for people everyday. But as gentle as she is, she is no match for a pig that is hot, injured and definitely not in the mood for a bath! But I knew we had to clean the wound and at least make sure it doesn’t get infected.

My usual open the door and hold-out-an-apple trick did not work. In fact, it took me two long, tedious, sweaty hours to finally corner her to get her into the garage where we had set up the makeshift bath. Even then she started running from us knocking things off the walls and creating a scene. Finally I snuck up behind and did the big pick-up-the-pig scoop. But instead of settling into the water and eating the snacks—she was kicking and screaming like a two-year that just learned there is a magical word ‘no’ they can use as they throw a temper tantrum.

At risk of losing part of my anatomy to flying hooves and swinging headbutts—I relented. Frankie was not in the mood for a bath—which meant she would not be going to school the next day. I surrendered, put up the white flag and emailed my contact with the news. She thankfully never told the schools about the surprise pig visit so we were in the clear. Once Frankie settled down back in her pig- house half buried in her straw, I slowly and carefully applied some medicine to her injured ear. The next day, another unusually hot spring day of 80 plus degrees, I drove to my school visits without my pig. Instead, I had some videos of her galloping around in the yard showing her usual sparkling personality. My wife made a mud hole out back so she could roll around and get even dirtier—and of course keep her cool. It was just what the doctor ordered. Within a day the combination of medicine and mudpack worked their magic—she was back to normal!

I guess is only fitting that a guy who wrote a book titled A Hog Ate My Homework! would end up having a pig that refuses to go to school!

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