The Mast-Head: Leo in the Morning

“Shut up already,” I think, “or it’s the knacker for you.”

Leo the pig does not do much in the winter. Actually, Leo, a house pet of unusual size, never does much at all. It’s just that on these early mornings, when I sit at the kitchen table thinking about what to write as he stands idly by, his easy ways are more obvious.

If I can generalize about pigdom from having watched Leo going on five years now, their dominant motivation is in their stomachs. Sun up or not, as soon as Leo hears me stirring, he scrambles out of his bed near the fireplace and with a string of loud grunts and whines demands to be fed. If one of the dogs gets near he gets downright operatic. “Shut up already,” I think, “or it’s the knacker for you.”

Leo is not dumb, as basic as his needs may be. He knows how to push open the front door to let the dogs in or out, and has my predawn moves around the kitchen memorized. If I veer away from what Leo believes is the plan, howls ensue; oink has very little to do with it. I feed him first lest he turn up the decibel level, and then get around to what I need to do. The dogs, polite, wait by their bowls. But Leo has a thing for dog food, too, and expects me to scatter some kibble on the kitchen floor for him to find. It’s like an Easter egg hunt, I suppose, the highlight of his day. The wet nose marks on the tile dry up soon enough.

Beyond food, Leo’s interests run to pushing the furniture around to get my attention when it is time for a scratch or for sleep, in that order. In his middle age, Leo chews on the woodwork less frequently than when he was young. However, anything new that we place in the house where he can get to it gets a good working over. 

As I type this morning, Leo has knocked down a mop and is appraisingly pushing it around the kitchen floor. Next, it’s over to the bathroom to see if anything interesting has been left in the wastebasket and to pull down the towels. This will have taken a great deal out of him, and he will head back to bed shortly. By the time the kids are up and getting ready for school, he is back in his bed, eyes closed as if he had not already made my morning a living hell. “He’s not so bad!” they will declare when I complain later on.