Back in October 2008 I finally took a trip I had been trying to avoid since I met He-Who. I went to his birthplace. Yes, folks, I went to Winnipeg, aka: The Centre Of The Universe.
As it turned out I had a wonderful time. I met some lovely people who all treated me like royalty and made me feel right at home. Friendships were formed that will always be with me. The strongest bond was with one new friend in particular: Sammy.
Sammy was great fun. A little messy. A little noisy. But quite amusing. I had never met anyone quite like Sammy. It’s quite possible it was because I have always lived in the city and Sammy … well, Sammy was a pig. I don’t mean Sammy was a slob. Sammy was a real honest to goodness pig. Like in the book “The Three Little Pigs”. Except Sammy wasn’t little. She wasn’t one of those miniature potbelly pigs that celebrities make popular. She was a real, full size pig. A pig’s pig so to speak.
Truth be told … I hadn’t packed for slopping pigs. My clothes could be washed but my shoes were an issue. By the time I reached Sammy at each feeding my shoes would be caked in stuff I don’t want to think about and often became stuck firmly enough that I walked out of them. It became my mission to find the perfect pig shoes to sport while spending time with Sammy. It took me days to find them but I knew them the instant I saw them. I was so proud the first time I put them on to go feed Sammy and I couldn’t understand why everyone looked shocked. I could hear them laughing all the way to the pig’s digs. I didn’t care. That meant I could spend more time with my swine friend.
There was just something about Sammy that made you want to spend time with her. Personally, I think Sammy was a natural Shaman, a healer. When I met Sammy she was about 2 ½ years old. She had come to live with her human mom, Susie, in early spring of 2006. She was just a few weeks old and weighed only 10 lbs. Susie has a great love of animals, especially pigs. While recuperating from an injury, Susie was pretty much housebound and was becoming quite depressed. One day, her husband, Craig, just after arriving home, asked her to retrieve something he had forgotten in the truck. Susie wasn’t impressed but begrudgingly went out to the truck, opened the door and found a tiny piglet wrapped in a carpet. Susie’s story…
Instantly I was excited but full of wonder as to what I was going to do with her. I then grabbed her and ran into the house, happier than I could have imagined. I had Craig go out and build her a house and a fence. From that moment on you couldn’t keep me in the house. Craig, at this point, thought he would eventually be making bacon and chops! Boy was he wrong. He thought I’d get over the thrill of the pig. After about a week I had picked her name. You see, in high school, I had acquaintances that knew my name, but for some strange reason called me Sam. So Sammy it was. I would buy jarred baby food and cook oatmeal twice a day, mixing fruits and veggies for her. She would get so excited! It was fun to feed her good stuff. People around me commented on how ridiculous I was being for spoiling her, but I didn’t care. I found it funny when I’d get the odd inquiry about her favorite foods. Not long after, Craig began buying cheeseburgers from McDonalds for Sammy and soon it was ice cream. A neighbour would bring black forest cake right from the bakery for Sammy. I had started a spoiling trend. I had naps with her in my lap out in her pen, sat with her through storms and did whatever I could to give back to her what she was giving me. She gave me reason to start my day and look forward to the next one. Over the years Sammy became a special part of many peoples lives. People would pop in just to see her, whether to give her a treat or just to pet her. She was so playful she would run and push toys around. She would roll over for a belly rub anytime! She had this hilarious wiggle when she got super excited. I called it her “dance”. I’m smiling just picturing it! My dogs at the time, Harley and Rocky, would stay by her pen at night and were always pleased to clean her snout after her meals. They loved her. As Craig continued to expand the farm, Sam would check things out with the other animals! She had a few more buddies, too. She and one of the horses would kiss over the fence and walk along beside each other. It was adorable! She was ready to babysit waterfowl and shared her mud bath with them when they were too young to head out to the pond. And I would often see this cat sitting on Sammy’s back. She was just all around a genuine, healing angel!
When it was time to leave my newfound friend, my hosts suggested that I leave my “pig shoes” behind and promised they would be there the next time I visited. When I came home, He-Who heard all about my adventures with Sammy and all about my pig shoes. The following August (2009) we were able to return to Winnipeg together. I couldn’t wait for He-Who to meet Sammy and was pretty excited to see her again. As soon as I got in the door and introductions were made, I asked if I could go out and see Sammy. Surprisingly I was told my pig shoes were right where I had left them. He-Who followed me out to the garage and stopped dead in his tracks when he saw me retrieve my pig shoes and proudly model them for him.
“But … they’re WHITE!” he said, shaking his head. “I thought they would be some kind of boot or something. NOT white sneakers.” I grinned and said, “They work for me” and dragged him out to meet Sammy. It was wonderful to see Sammy again and I know she knew who I was and was appropriately impressed that I came back to see her.
Sammy was about 600 lbs. when she passed away from pneumonia in March of this year. She is dearly missed by Susie and all those whose lives she touched. Suzie tells me the farmyard has not been the same without her. She was truly loved and led an amazing life in the little menagerie.
I still have my pig shoes and think of my friend Sammy every time I look at them.