From a scared, fragile 2-week old piglet to growing up to become a healthy, confident girl, here’s the story of how Kiki and I embarked on a lifelong friendship...
As you read this story, I’m fully aware that you will find it hard to believe that what I say is true, or that I have not morphed it to make it more appealing. It is not so. I swear it is the truth and only the truth.
So clearly does this day remain in my memory: on the 17th of December 2018, Kiara was brought to the RESQ Center, paralysed and with dog bite wounds on her body.
As one often hears and sees that wild (or, in the case of India, street) pigs or piglets are dirty, she too was filthy with the addition of having blood, pus and fleas on her body. As she lay there on the examination table, unable to even lift her head to suckle from a milk bottle, the decision to foster her was an inevitable one. You see, I have a dream -- a dream to one day have a pet pig.
And so it began: the research, the worrying, the caring, the cooking, the shopping.
My foremost worries were, how would my 2 rescued cats react to a piglet in the apartment?!?! (And here I should add I live in a tiny, less than 550 square-foot apartment!) But in true queen fashion, they ignored her when she was awake and curiously checked her out when she was asleep.
On the first night itself, after a warm bath and some porridge, she was showing improvement and spirit! We watched Pride and Prejudice together and she lifted her head without aid. The scene of Mr. Darcy insulting Elisabeth as he told her he loved her, and Kiara (Kiki) had had enough: she decided to prop herself up on her knees and scoot along, all the while dragging her hind legs behind her. I was overjoyed! The same piglet who a few hours ago couldn’t even lift her head was now trying so hard to get away from Mr. Darcy’s very ungentlemanly behaviour! And so, I began to hope... the hope that one day she’d walk again had me up every 2 hours for weeks to feed her; to ensure her tiny body got all the nutrition it would need.
Kiki's second night home with me.
Again, one reads and hears that pigs are actually very clean, smart animals, but with Kiara I got to witness it firsthand. By Night Two, she was using the litter tray (and remember, this is a partially paralysed piglet!). She’d sleep in her basket with her hot water bottle by the side of my bed, and be it the middle of the night or three in the morning, if she needed to do her business, she’d start screaming and crying to be let out. Once out, she’d make a beeline for the litter tray, do whatever the need of the hour was, drag herself back, cry once more to be put back into her basket, and fall asleep once more.
Mornings, I learned not to move around on my bed (it creaks, you see) because the moment she’d hear me, it was time for breakfast -- sometimes as early as 4am! But as the days she continued to live with me increased, we came to an understanding. 4am -- breakfast, followed by nature’s call, and then back to bed with me for some cuddles and zzzzzzz until it was a respectable hour to get up.
Kiki's ever-expectant "breakfast face!"
And so the days passed by, her travelling with me in the 'cat bag' back and forth to work (some very interesting looks that got me from fellow travellers) and me living my dream. The sound of her hoofs in the house and conversations like, “Can you come for Christmas lunch ?” “Sure! But I’m bringing Kiki” became the norm.
I used to give her my clothes to snuggle and sleep in during the night so that she felt like I was there with her.
Soon, the day arrived where she no longer fit in the cat bag, and more importantly, she could walk completely unaided again.
At the RESQ Center, she began to live and spend her days in the Paediatric Unit. Eating, sleeping and playing with the puppies. Life was good!
Kiki and her puppy friends!
Then came the day where she was intergrated with the adult pigs, and I imagine I felt like a parent sending their children to school for the first day. The anxiety, the worry, and yet the strong hope that all will be well... those days were one of the hardest days in my relationship with Kiki. I steeled my heart against her cries whenever she saw me, knowing that this was the best for her. Eventually, she learned that I would visit her during the day and that she was grown up now and needed to learn to be by herself.
She still lives at the RESQ Center, and I still visit her every day... I scratch her belly and she wipes her snout on me. I’m living half my dream... I got to hand-raise a pig!