For the Love of Pigs

I have always loved pigs.  I could never resist their cuteness… and the funny little snorts and grunts they make.  When I was a teenager, I applied for a job as an animal keeper in the petting zoo at Opryland Theme Park.  I wanted that job so bad I could taste it.  I love animals and couldn’t imagine a better job in a theme park than working in the petting zoo.  Also, I would soon be applying to veterinary school and needed experience working with a variety of animals on my application.  Getting into veterinary school is highly competitive and I needed all the help I could get!  But when I applied at Opryland the first year, I was just 1 of a few thousand teenagers who also wanted to work in the animal department.  I was told I would not be able to work in the petting zoo without “working my way up to it.”  The advice they gave me was to take a job in maintenance (of which the animal department was a part of) and then eventually I would get into the petting zoo.  So I did.  I got a job in the maintenance department… cleaning restrooms.  Actually it wasn’t nearly as bad as it sounds.  I worked relief which meant I wasn’t assigned a restroom of my own but would rotate around the park working different restrooms on other restroom attendants’ days off.  This provided a lot of variety for me.  I enjoyed being in different areas of the park, met a lot of nice folks and learned a lot about life and people.  After 2 years, an opening became available for an animal keeper in the petting zoo.  My job was pretty straight forward – I would be responsible for feeding and watering the animals, keeping the animals and their environment clean, and educating the guests and answering their questions.  The animal keepers were also responsible for reprimanding guests who abused the animals.  And unfortunately, that did happen from time to time.  My favorite animals in the zoo were the pigs.  I learned and observed a lot about the pigs during the summer that I worked there and of course while in veterinary school.

1)  Pigs are actually very clean animals.  Because they like to wallow in the mud, pigs have a reputation for being “dirty” and disgusting animals.  Not true.  In actuality, pigs don’t have sweat glands, so they roll around in the mud to keep cool.  The mud also serves to protect their skin against the sun and as the mud dries and cakes on their skin, it helps to keep flies and other insects from biting them.  I also discovered that they use one corner of the pen for their “bathroom” so as not to soil where they will be sleeping.

2) Pigs  are very social animals.  They always seemed to like to interact with the park guests and with each other.  I found them to be very affectionate animals and pretty darn smart.

3) Pigs have a sense of humor.  At Opryland they were both amusing and entertaining to watch.  In the summers at Opryland, it often got very hot – often in the 90s and even 100s.  And in case you didn’t know, pig excrement has an extremely foul odor (even fouler than most) which is not a good thing on a hot day!  On those days I would pull the hose over to the pig pen and hose it out and the pigs always would start playing in the water – running through the hose, biting the water, leaping in the air, etc.  The guests always enjoyed this show as much as I did.

4)  You always know where you stand with a pig.  I like that.  If pigs are scared, they are going to let you know they are scared (usually by piercing your ear drums with their deafening squeals)!  If they are happy, you know it.  I never met a “bad” pig but almost got eaten alive once in veterinary school by an angry momma sow who decided she didn’t want inexperienced veterinary students messing with her babies.  Can’t say that I blame her.  Sows are fiercely protective of their young.  I like that too.

I started collecting pigs while in college.  I used to think it would be neat to have a pig kitchen when I got married.  And guess what?  I do.  The funny thing, is  that when you start collecting something like this, others can’t resist joining in on the fun and it soon gets a little out of hand.  My husband could probably tell you exactly just how many pigs are in our kitchen (personally I stopped counting at ~125).  I have had friends come across cute pig figurines at yard sales and buy them for me.  Some of the best pig stuff I have bought have been e-bay auctions.  I have a pig rug in front of my sink and pig curtains in my windows.  There are pig pictures on the walls and pig figurines on the counters and shelves and pigs sitting on the floor.  Everywhere you look there are pigs.  Here, see for yourself (these are just a few).

my favorite e-bay find.  Adds the perfect ambiance to the kitchen at night!

my favorite e-bay find. Adds the perfect ambiance to the kitchen at night!

One of many pictures hanging on the wall.  This is my favorite!

One of many pictures hanging on the wall. This is my favorite!

This pot-bellied guy swings above the sink.  I feel like him some days!

This pot-bellied guy swings above the sink. I feel like him some days!

I have several pairs of salt and pepper shakers.  Love this one and I can sympathize with this gal!

I have several pairs of salt and pepper shakers. Love this one and I can sympathize with this gal!

I had to have pig curtains.  Found these also on e-bay and I love them!

I had to have pig curtains. Found these also on e-bay and I love them!

a gift from my sister

a gift from my sister

another gift from my sister

another gift from my sister

this was a wedding gift from my mother along with some matching towels

this was a wedding gift from my mother along with some matching towels

every year I have a pig calendar

every year I have a pig calendar

... and more pig decor

… and more pig decor

this little piggy sits on the floor by my trashcan

this little piggy sits on the floor by my trashcan

 pigs on the windowsill

pigs on the windowsill

And that’s my pig kitchen.  Tell me, what do you like to collect?


About Gail

I am a wife, mother, sister, aunt, friend, veterinarian, and wanna be writer. I love nature and animals of all kinds, music, cooking, and spending time with my family.
This entry was posted in Animals, Hobbies and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to For the Love of Pigs

  1. Paula says:

    Loved your piggy post today. Of course you know what my collections are: turtles, green glass, dishes & antiques. I have so many turtles that I had to put some in the closet. I started my turtle collectionin high school and I honestly cannot tell you how many I have.

    • Gail says:

      Yep, Paula, you have a lot of turtles and I have seen just about all of them. And don’t forget all your vegetables in your vegetable kitchen!

  2. Debbie Phillips says:

    I can attest to the fact that you love pigs. I have seen your kitchen myself and it is really great. As you may know, I like old barns. When David and I take rides into the country, I always take my camera. I have taken hundreds of pictures of old barns over the years. I enjoy going back and comparing some of the pictures taken years ago and the ones I have taken recently. The old barns are decaying and leaning. Some of them have fallen. I also like to compare the same barns in different times of the season. The barns take on a different personality.

    When I see an old barn, I wonder about the people whom built it, how they lived back then, the sicknesses the families endured and hard times the families had farming and keeping food on the table. Sometimes there are old grave yards beside the old barns, but the house where the family lived is gone. The barns look sad. The doors half on and half off, the roofs are windblown or tore off and the grass or fields have grown high.

    In a few years from now these old barns will have completely fallen to the ground, because no one is there to take care of them. I have told David several times, that these old barns are like people in a way, as we get older we decay, fall down and then no one cares about us either. This is sad.

    But as they say, life goes on and maybe in some small way, the old barns and pigs, enrich our lives and the lives of others, and will continue to do so for many years to come.

    Debbie Phillips

    • Gail says:

      Well, Debbie, I learned something new about my sister-in-law. I didn’t know you liked old barns. I would love to see your pictures sometimes. I loved your comparison of old barns to people. Yes, it is sad and true. I never really thought of it like that. What you wrote was beautiful. This may sound silly, but being surrounded in my kitchen by things that I love and things that make me happy help me to enjoy being in my kitchen more and preparing meals for my family. Like my mother always said, the kitchen is the busiest room in the house. Mother loved her rooster kitchen (I have a few of her roosters mixed in with my pigs). Yes, these things do enrich our lives.

  3. Kaitlyn Reasoner says:

    Mrs. Dozier,

    Your kitchen is sooooooo cute!! 🙂

  4. commscrum says:

    Aaah, a fellow pig lover… Loved your piece and porcine photos!


    Mike Klein,
    Copenhagen, DK

    PS: here is my collection of pig photos

  5. Pingback: More Pigs in the Kitchen | Moonlight Reflections

  6. tony morrell rchards dad says:

    have over 5000 pig articals like u every thing in house is pigs,can lay table with every thing pig plates cups napkins, knife fork ect ect, been collecting 30 years plus now have swine fever.

    • Gail says:

      That’s one thing I don’t have is pig plates and cups (but would like to)! I guess I’ve been collecting piggies for about 30 years as well. Started getting a few pigs while in college and been going strong ever since! Thanks for stopping by and commenting!

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