A family falls for Annie
Ruby Neath, 10 going on 30, understands the tenets of a successful campaign. Know your audience. Stay on message. If need be, filibuster.
“I didn’t give up,” says the unwavering Ruby, who’d corral her dad on occasion for a captive audience. “I really really wanted a pig. They’re cute and smart and clean, not dirty like some people think. I just couldn’t get it out of my mind.”
Yes, Operation Pig went on for more than a year with the fifth grader at Trinity Classical School proffering her porcine proposal. Might her parents see fit to add a pig to their family of five? Well, six if you count rambunctious wiener dog Chili.
“One hundred percent against it,” recalls dad Charlie.
“When Ruby said ‘pig,’ I’d just shut down,” chimes in mom Susan.
Which leads to the question of an adorable mini pig, Annie, doing a tail-flipping, hoof-tapping, rodeo dance on their den floor this day, like an over-cranked wind-up toy.
“I’m in love,” deadpans the dad, a convert. “I’ve never had somebody in the family rally me for so long. Any way Ruby could insert ‘pig’ into a conversation, she would. But that little thing has ripped my heart in half. She’s better potty-trained than my wiener dog, for sure.”
Annie, who has returned to the swaddled comfort of mama Ruby’s arms, snorts a retort. Yes, I am adorable, and way better behaved than your wiener dog. Earlier, she demonstrated full vocal range with a high-pitched squeal and bolt to a litter pan of pine shavings.
The family expects her to be fully house-trained soon, conducting business solely outside. She rocks a tiny pink leash and harness and roots around for acorns in their backyard.
“I think we are all in love,” admits Susan, who did plentiful pig research before trekking to Texas Tiny Pigs in Waco with son Andrew, 14, the Sunday before Christmas as a holiday surprise for Ruby. Family friends Cynthia and Chris Wenz and their sons, Caleb, 14, and Justice, 16, kept the pig on the down-low at their home for two days, surprising the relentless porcine campaigner at her doorstep Christmas morning.
“I heard a squeal. I was like, ‘Wait, that sounds like a pig!’” recalls Ruby, grinning. “I was kind of shocked for the first hour or two. Sometimes I still have to pinch myself.”
“Annie is so much fun,” agrees sister Nola, 8, scratching the pig’s lower back, just near her hind-end. “A favorite spot.”
The mini pig was 9 inches tall and 6 pounds by late January. She’s weaned from formula and is now on a regimen of nutritional pellets with vegetables and fruits for treats.
She’ll top out at around 30 pounds, the size of a small beagle, says Savannah Green, owner of Texas Tiny Pigs, who considers Annie’s breed, an American mini pig, the ideal pet. “They’re non-allergenic, shedless and odorless. They won’t smell up the house like some dogs, and they’re easier to train. People often confuse them with pot-bellied pigs that can become quite large and tend to be lazy. The American mini pig is more athletic.”
Susan has heard horror stories about pigs that quickly balloon past expected parameters.
“But we plan to keep Annie on a proper pig diet and not give her table scraps, because we don’t want to start bad habits with her,” she says. On the off-chance Annie does pork up to a size not befitting house life, she’ll go to Susan’s sister’s ranch in Yorktown, Texas.
Annie’s already made a family trip to the ranch, where she brazenly chased peacocks and posed for house-on-the-prairie-style pictures with family dressed as pioneers. And she’s made the social circuit near home, too: Starbucks, The Dish Society restaurant on San Felipe, basketball practice, the hair salon, among other places. Swaddled in a blanket, she’s often mistaken for a puppy until people see the snout.
“I really want her to go a lot of places and people will love her like I do,” says Ruby. “She’s really a good girl. Pigs don’t like drama. She fits in to our family.”
“Yeah, she’s been a great bonding experience,” agrees Susan, who, at day’s end, puts Annie into a portable crib where she burrows under a blanket for the night, nary an oink.
Apparently, Annie also likes pedicures, or whatever you call it in the pig world.
“I was watching a movie with her last night and filed her hooves with an emery board. They can get sharp if you don’t,” Susan says.
With life expectancy from 15 to 18 years, Ruby’s mom offers this future snapshot. “The kids are grown and gone, and it’ll be me and Annie on the couch, filing our nails and watching I Love Lucy reruns.”
Want more buzz like this? Sign up for our Morning Buzz emails.
To leave a comment, please log in or create an account with The Buzz Magazines, Disqus, Facebook, Twitter or Google+. Or you may post as a guest.