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Meet Peach – Our Family Pet & Therapy Pig!

03/23/2012

So this is what Peach is usually doing…SLEEPING! I never knew a pig could sleep so much! But I most certainly don’t blame her – I would sleep a lot more often if I could too! Peach will be three months old this weekend and she is the companion to my oldest son Dakoda. We have deemed her as the “family” pet but in all reality we bought her for my son – we just don’t want him to know that! Dakoda has very high functioning Asperger’s syndrome, is highly gifted, and also has a sensory processing disorder. What does all that mean? It means he sees things differently and doesn’t always “get” other people. This almost sounds cliche but it all started when he was 18 months old. After getting his 18 month old shots he spiked very high fevers for a week which ultimately resulted in a febrile seizure. I am not getting into the autism or vaccine debate but at this point in his life is when his troubles started. I worked side by side with him constantly 100% of the time for over a year before finally reaching out and investing in social skills classes and occupational therapy. It made a HUGE difference. H.U.G.E. Thanks to our two wonderful therapists there he is extremely high functioning and most people do not peg him with Asperger’s at all. After about six months, however, we could not afford the $600+ a month that it would cost to continue therapy so we began looking for alternative methods to keep up with our son’s need for sensory input.

Ever since he was a baby we noticed a vastly different response in him when animals were around. Dogs, cows, birds – anything. He seemed to “connect” with animals immediately – I’ve never seen him happier than when he is with an animal. Don’t get me wrong, he LOVES kids and loves school but he is most relaxed when he is with an animal. My husband and I had long talked about getting him a dog for this reason but understood that we would have to be extremely particular. I didn’t want a small one that could be easily hurt if my son got overexcited, I didn’t want a hyper one which would set him off, etc. Both of my boys have allergies and my husband highly dislikes dogs so he has always said “no dog!”. Last week when he offered the alternative of another reasonable animal I was thrilled. Although I have my hands full with the kids I knew how much it would benefit my son. After much discussion my husband suggested a pig…..and this began our pig hunt!

We did our research – choosing a pig was not a rash or quick decision. Pigs come in all shapes and sizes and contrary to popular belief they are actually very clean animals. AND they can be litter-box trained!  We were hoping to spend about $100 on the pig itself and headed out to a farm an hour away to go pick out a pot bellied pig. When the lady heard about our son, however, she VERY generously offered her expensive $1000 a pig breed for only $200! The pig she offered, however, was the runt of the litter and was extremely tiny. I was partially against it simply because I did not want a small pig, I was OK with a 70 pound pig running around our house. This itty bitty thing would only get up to 20-25 pounds. Once we arrived at the farm we looked at more than 40 different pigs and this little runt that the lady had offered us became the object of my son’s affection. He didn’t know about the lady’s offer for her – he is only 4 years old. He picked her up and wouldn’t let her down – I knew that this piggy was the one for my son. He held her in his lap the entire way home and she just slept in his arms – that is when he named her Peach (after Princess Peach from the Mario Kart Wii game).

So that is the story how our family has acquired this little cutie! I hope you’ll follow along with us as I journal about our life with Peach and the effect that it has on our family, and on my son.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Linda Rubino permalink
    03/24/2012 12:20 AM

    I would love to find out where you got your pig. I have two little ones now 3 and 4 who I am permanent guardians of and in the process of trying to adopt. I have had the little girl since she was 3 wks and the boy since he was 15 months old. Unfortunately the little boy has had so many emotional issues with the parents that he has been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). He has had many therapists and has had hospitalization 2 times because of his behavior. The one thing that works so well with these type of children is therapy animals. Can you give me more info on this I would so appreciate it. Thanks Linda.

    • peachthetherapypig permalink*
      03/24/2012 2:00 AM

      Hi Linda! I simply looked online for pigs in my area, however, the little boy you mentioned sounds like he has a more severe problem than my son and starting off with a brand new baby pig might not be the best idea for him as they typically take quite a bit of handling to get comfortable with people. I suggest looking either for an older family pig or a carefully picked dog. Another suggestion which I know has worked wonders is to see if there is a horse stable nearby where he can learn to interact with the horses as I have heard wonderful things about equine therapy. Best wishes to you and the children in your care!

  2. 03/24/2012 2:21 AM

    How neat! What a great name for a pig and a great purpose! Looking forward to reading about your progress.

  3. 03/24/2012 1:33 PM

    She’s adorable!

  4. 04/06/2012 6:35 AM

    This is so great! I’ve heard some passing things about using pigs for therapy before, but it’ll be neat to follow your family’s journey. Thank you for sharing with us! Good luck!!

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