The Mast-Head: Life With Leo

There was no way it was ever going to remain 10 pounds as an adult, as the Texas trailer park breeder they had found on the Internet said it would

Spring agrees with Leo the pig. Regular readers of this column may recall that about two years ago, over my desperate protests, two of the women of our household insisted that we get a pet of the cloven-hoof variety.

My objections centered on the sense that I would end up taking care of it, and anyway, there was no way it was ever going to remain 10 pounds as an adult, as the Texas trailer park breeder they had found on the Internet said it would. I was correct on both counts. First, because I get up the earliest in the family, and the dang pig will not leave me alone until I make its breakfast, and second, well, pigs are pigs.

The last time we weighed Leo, he was well over 40 pounds. When a tile setter who had grown up on a farm in Greece was at our house a week ago, the subject came up. He estimated that Leo would top out at more than 50. When we get around to replacing the battery in the bathroom scale, we will settle the matter.

Though small for a pig, Leo is not 10 pounds. Picture a pinkish, spiky Labrador with short legs and you’ll get the idea. Part of the reason Leo appears to enjoy warmer weather is that the lawn becomes a relatively expansive food source for him. He will disappear for a while in the morning then return with his snout covered in soil, the interim having been spent rooting near the chicken coop or on the margin of the swamp in our backyard. Then it is time for a scratch, rubbing his flanks the way a bear might on a shaggy-backed wild cherry.

After these exertions, Leo might retire to a spot in the sun. As I left for work the other day, he had set himself down on the brick walkway with a low bank of grass on which to prop up his massive head. 

By coincidence this week I spoke with a therapist who, as it turned out, had been the original owner of a hand-me-down couch we keep on the porch. Leo, I said, had taken to the dark brown velvet cushions now that the weather was warm, and often beds down on it for his afternoon nap.

The therapist paused, laughed, and said something to the effect that it was the best outcome possible for an old psychoanalytic couch.

Leo, if he could understand it, would surely agree. But then again, he’d probably be too busy dreaming about grass and what he might have for supper.