The Mast-Head: Leo on the Run

Leo is a source of great entertainment in our household

   With apologies to Sarah Palin, our family’s pet pig, Leo, went rogue last weekend. In fact, he did it twice.
    With 50 fast approaching, apparently my mind is not what it used to be as on both Saturday and Sunday mornings, I left the gate to the path down to Gardiner’s Bay open. Leo, whom I will describe a little more shortly, took advantage of this, sauntering out that way, and as best as I can figure, slipping off into the woods for parts unknown.
    To be honest, I did not even know he was missing in the first instance. My wife, Lisa, found him walking around in the driveway when she got home from some Saturday errand or other. The second time it was not until I was in the house making lunch for a couple of kids on Sunday that I noticed he was not in his usual place at my ankles — poking at me with his snout in the hope of a bite of something, anything. It is not for nothing they call them pigs.
    Leo is a source of great entertainment in our household. His personality is somewhere between the studied indifference of a cat and the food-mad nature of a dog. When he is not eating or looking for food, he is asleep. Most of his snoozes take place under a blanket in one of the dogs’ beds, or, if he can manage it, on someone’s lap. Outside, he is prone to sudden and inexplicable sprints around the fenced yard, which usually end with his going back to munching the grass.
    In a week or so, Leo, still less than a year old, will top 20 pounds. This is something that I find highly amusing, as Lisa and our older daughter, Adelia, had bought the come-on of some Texas Internet pig breeder who swore up and down that its pigs do not exceed 10 pounds when fully grown.
    I had said that the pig would likely hit 40, kind of like a small Labrador retriever, but with shorter legs. Lisa and Adelia insisted he would stay small with the same vigor they insisted that I would never have to lift a finger to help take care of him. Well, you can just guess how that turned out. Lisa threatens every now and then to send Leo back to the breeder. I think she wants to do that so she doesn’t have to listen to my telling her I told you so anymore.
    The truth is that other than the occasional wet spot he leaves on the bath mat, he doesn’t bother me a bit. In fact, I like him just fine. I even enjoy putting together his meals of fresh spinach, carrots, fruit, oats, and yogurt when I have to. And, frankly, it gives me no end of pleasure to remind Lisa that I was right on all counts. Hey, honey? Hah!
    So it was with no small measure of panic that I responded to Leo’s second disappearance. With the kids’ help, I circled the house calling for him and shaking a plastic container of dog food, an otherwise sure-fire way to get his attention. We went to the beach; he was not there. I took to the woods; he was not there either. I phoned the East Hampton Town police and left my number.
    Then, moments before my father-in-law arrived by car to lend a hand in the search, there he was, calmly trotting up the driveway.
    Later that day, since his second escape had been my fault, I said that I would deal with all the ticks he had accumulated while on his wayward jaunt. We sat down together on the kitchen floor, me with tweezers, and Leo with his eyes shut, dreaming, I suppose, of his two days on the run.