I never really knew Sarah, Henry’s previous owner, for I had only met her a couple of times but I do know she had a good heart and she was taken from this world way too early. Sarah passed away recently after a long battle with illness and she left behind her small menagerie of animals she had rescued. One being dear Henry, a jovial black and white pig about five years old, although sadly not so jovial at the moment for he is missing Sarah. Pigs like Henry bond closely with their human carers more so than many dogs.
On the occasions Sarah and I did chat it was, as you can imagine, about pigs. We compared notes about our beloved porcines as only pigophiles can. We talked about their favorite treats and their uncanny ability to make you smile in the most ridiculously annoying situations they had just created.
Like the time Edgar made his way devilishly into the house while no one was watching and attempted to devour 10 kgs of vegan pet treats ensuring the contents of the bag made its way to every nook and cranny about the house and that every piece was covered with a good dose of pig saliva. Even today we still unearth the odd pig saliva encrusted treat! We talked about their splendid and full ‘language’ that we each were coming to understand.
I remember relaying to Sarah the wonderful account Sy Montgomery had told of her pig, Christopher Hogwood, in her magical book ‘The Good Good Pig’. It was when a photographer, clearly not versed in the ways of a pig, had turned up to do a photo shoot with Christopher having brought along several props. Sy eyed him dubiously as she said something like “you want Christopher to do what”, knowing full well what Christopher’s degree of co-operation would be. But undeterred the photographer pressed on as did Christopher’s devouring all of the props!
We laughed out loud at the image of dear Edgar and Henry being as equally co-operative for the unsuspecting and ambitious photographer. I recalled with a smile the photo shoot Edgar did for his fifth birthday which involved party hats of which he refused to keep straight on his head, greeting cards he covered with dirt and birthday cakes which he kept eating before we could get the shot!
I recall Sarah telling of Henry’s ability to bring joy and smiles to all he met. His sweet patience as he would cleverly sit for a treat, something she had quickly taught the astute Henry. His antics became legendary as visitors would come to say ‘hello’ to Henry. Henry filled Sarah’s illness ravaged life with laughter, joy, peace and happiness that no other could ever do.
I knew Sarah really had trotted into the inner sanctum of pigs when she told me of Henry’s ‘Zen’ like moments. This is the uncanny ability of pigs to just so ‘be’.
You can spy this when they are in their wallow, or standing in a paddock nose raised, eyes closed, having one of those ‘lightness of being’ moments. A wealth of wisdom within, an inquisitive and outgoing friendly disposition to the world, a pig is a being who truly and unassumingly weaves a poignant thread into the hearts and minds of those open enough to receive it.
It is Sarah’s love for Henry that has moved me so much, a feeling I can so readily identify as I imagine what it would have been like for dear Edgar to have survived me and not as history has shown vice versa.
That animals grieve is nothing new. Elephants mourning the loss of their departed buddies, having sunken eyes, drooping ears and miserable dispositions, is well documented and heralds a species just like ours whose lives are sadder for the passing of a friend. Baby elephants who have witnessed the brutal slaughter of their mothers wake up screaming.
The tale of Old Shep’s loyalty, patience and friendship as he dutifully returned to the spot where he bid farewell to his master, each day for his last five and half years, rarely fails to bring a lump to the throat or a tear to the eye of the listener.
Pigs with their rich intelligence, loving devotion and vivid emotions shown to those who offer them an all too rare kindness, something both Sarah and I know all too well, have their worlds turned upside down when their beloved is no longer.
I knew and know Sarah loved Henry like no other and it is for the love of Henry that we have opened our barn doors to him and pray we can put his heart together again. Farewell Sarah, Henry is in good hands.