A Day in the Life of a Zookeeper

A Day in the Life of a Zookeeper
Ever wonder what its like to share your world with a bunch of crazy critters? Tune in to find out!

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

First Encounters

So - today was a huge first step in becoming one big happy herd.  This afternoon I needed both the dogs and the pig to have some outside time as I was out for an extended period of time this morning. I took the puppies and Emma through the back yard and let them out to play outside the fence - they love it out there.  Then I headed to the house and got Winston and let him out into the back yard for some outside time.

I went out the gate to take the dogs for a walk while Winston played in the yard.  He could see us and hear us and he was quite interested in the goings on outside his fence.  I was very nervous about what might happen when the puppies got close to the fence.  I thought Winston might be a big pink turd.  I was very pleasantly surprised.

My sweet little piglet was a perfect gentleman.  There was no biting or snapping.  There was no head swiping.  There was no charging at the fence.  Just sniffing and lots of wagging tails - Winston's and the puppies'.  He ran along side them up and down the fence line - great exercise for him.  He let out a few excited piggy barks (did you know that pigs bark - its the best noise!).  He did do some posturing where he would turn to the side - almost like showing them his rear end.  Not sure what that was about.

I am thrilled with how this first encounter went.  I am also very surprised given his turdy behavior when they first arrived.  Would I let them meet without the protection of the fence?  Heck no.  But - I will let them interface often - multiple times a week if not daily - to get them as used to each other as possible.  I won't introduce them until the puppies are much bigger and Tango has been fixed - but I am hopeful that these meetings at the fence will lay the groundwork for a successful transition eventually.

Just as a side note -- you cannot leave pigs and dogs unattended.  Pigs are pray animals and dogs are predators and sometimes instincts takes over.  When Winston was young he and Emma were inseparable.  As he got older and wanted to prove his dominance he became a bit of a putz to her. They are never alone together unsupervised these days.  While Emma is a herder by nature, Winston is an instigator.  I can see him pushing her - pissing her off to the point that they would fight and it wouldn't be pretty.  The puppies are also herders but they will not be unattended with the pig either. Every day there are stories on my Facebook news feed about pigs who were attacked by dogs.  Both animals end up getting hurt and sometimes the results are fatal.  So - I guess what I am saying is this is my PSA - NO PIGS AND DOGS UNSUPERVISED!!!

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