The Mast-Head: A Present for Leo

More than once I said if we got a pig, I would move out to the shed

    Leo the pig has hit what appears to be his adolescence — constantly leaving a mess on the floor and trying to carve out a little space of his own just to be left alone.

    For those of you unfamiliar with the story of our pet house-pig, let me explain that he joined our family over my most strident objections. My wife, Lisa, and elder daughter, Adelia, had fallen for what appeared to be an online con, a Texas breeder who claimed that it would weigh no more than 10 pounds as an adult. Don’t ask how much he cost us or to ship by air.

    More than once I said if we got a pig, I would move out to the shed.

    “Fine,” Lisa and Adelia said.

    Oh, he was cute when he arrived, all pink and tiny and seeking warmth under our chins. I said they were crazy and warned that he would ultimately be about the size of our Lab mix dog, albeit with stubbier legs. Now, at about 2 years old, he weighs more than 30 pounds — all muscle and determination — and he still wants to cuddle up under our chins.

    As such things often go, Leo has become more or less my pet, or to be more precise, my problem. Lisa wanted to send him back for a refund; Adelia is entirely indifferent. I find him interesting and amusing.

    Since I get up well before the rest of the household, it is I who puts him out in the morning, and it is I who makes his breakfast while fending off his aggressive nuzzling of my ankles. If I am not fast enough, he makes his displeasure known by knocking over the antique kitchen chairs; already one has been taken away for repair. He is not much put off by shots from a spray-bottle, which we keep handy. Often my first words of the day are, “Leo, cut it.” Well, perhaps with a bit more profanity.

    Just this week, the beast took to tearing up The Sunday Times with his hooves, then pushing the shreds into his dog bed by the radiator and nestling down amid it all. Midday on Monday, my wife sent a phone photo; Leo had curled up for a nap inside his recently cleaned litter box.

    Shortly thereafter, Lisa was headed for Bridgehampton. I said she should get him a room of his own, or at least swing by Agway to look for a nicer bed.