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First Walk Of Spring
By Grenville "Gren" Owen
Submitted by the Author 22 Dec 2001
During the cold English winter months Bushka stays in and snuggles up the warm radiator and only ventures out when she has to then quick dashes back in after taking care of nature. Although I try to encourage her to take on the elements I know only too well that she really feels the cold so I only attempt to get her when I think the day is warm enough and even though the winter has been mild by UK standards it has just not been warm enough for her to consider going further than the front garden which has a small area of rich grass. (Photo-above right: Bushka lounging in front of the radiator with Tiger)
The temperature lately suddenly took a turn for the better and on 9th March saw the thermometer rise to 16deg C accompanied by brilliant sunshine. I was working at home that day so it was almost a split second decision to try to get her out. Quick as a flash I popped Bushka’s harness on and she knew immediately that it was walkies time. I opened the front door and she stood in the front doorway looking out at the big wide world making loud grunting noises and breathing in the fresh spring air. After a short period of hesitation she ventured forth into the garden. We have a short garden path leading to the pavement and she very slowly walked along it taking the occasional bite from the lawn. Once she actually got to the pavement she just stood there as if trying to make her mind up whether it was warm enough to make the big step or perhaps go back in to the warmth of the house. Eventually I was able to persuade her to go for it and she pottered along the pavement checking on the various bits of wrappers which littered the street. Sometimes I really bless those school children that pass our home on their way to the school a few hundred yards away.
Bushka’s pace was a little slow and it was obvious that she was a little stiff from the winter indoors but she soon started to walk a little quicker, rounding the corner which leads along a short stretch of road eventually reaching the much busier road which we must cross to get to the park. This short stretch of road can be a bit off putting for her because the wind blows across the park and causes a little more chill to the air and its along here where she has changed her mind before so I watched her to see if she was going to give up and scurry back home. I must point out that I actually break the rules when I take her out because I only attach the leash to the harness to get her across the road but she walks very well beside me and will generally walk with just the occasional word if she takes a little too much interest in a discarded curry container. (as you can gather Birmingham is not the tidiest of cities) It was quite a surprise when she continued to plod along the pavement at quite a brisk pace towards the slightly busy road which is where I clipped the leash to the harness and checked that we have a clear road to get her across in safety. I must point out that without exception, if a car approaches whilst we are ambling across the road they will slow down to give us a safe passage so I will take this moment to thank all the motorists who could just as easily speed up and try to swerve around us but I’m sure it is more likely that it’s quite unusual to see a man and his pig walking across the road they are shocked a little so slow down just to take a second look.
Once across the road I unclip the leash and Bushka’s pace suddenly accelerates to a trot as she knows that only 30 yards away is the large public park which is a rich grazing area for her and where she is free to run. There is a small break in the fence which some kind soul made (wonder who that was) so that Bushka can enter the park without walking all the way round to get in and she dashes through the gap and into the park. I was taken aback by the view because the last time we were there the leaves had all fallen from the trees and the whole place looked very different. The deep green of the grass was almost too green and certainly looked very lovely, the wide variety of trees were covered in buds ready to burst into blossom which surely can’t be long now. Bushka loves to run in this part of the park as it has a slight downward slope and a clear view across the tree lined park so it took very little effort from me to encourage to start her first real exercise of the year. It always amazes me to her running because at over 140lb she is no spring chicken yet she can very quickly get to a fair old turn of speed. I’m sure that her supplementary diet of cod liver oil capsules really helps to keep her joints in good condition and I would highly recommend that other owners follow suite. One of the most enjoyable sights is seeing her do her ‘bottom bounce’ which involves her bouncing her whole backside from one side to the other whilst she runs. It tells me she is really enjoying herself and that she is extremely happy. The is accompanied by loud barking noises which continues to make until she slows down and returns to a normal walking pace. I normally run behind her and encourage her to run but at times she outpaces me totally and I have to stop to get my breath back, oh to be a young man again.
Having crossed the large open grassed area we pass through another fence and enter park area itself which has a small pond which is used by local anglers and has many geese and ducks living on it. As we join a graveled path Bushka slows down only increasing her pace when we have crossed a small bridge and it is here that she dashes off again to see if any of the local residents have thrown anything edible over their back fences. There are several houses which back onto the park and they frequently feed the large population of squirrels that live within the park. On this occasion the squirrels had been there first and Bushka sniffed the whole area along the fence and came up empty, much to her disappointment. The park had taken on a fresh view since we were last here and there are hundreds of crocuses now in full flower displaying huge patches of purple, yellow and white against the deep green of the fresh spring grass. I always enjoy the first walk of the season because we meet people who have not seen Bushka for some time and they generally pass the time of day and ask about her health, giving her a little fuss at the same time. Bushka only puts up with this for a short period of course because it’s wasting valuable grazing time so she soon ambles off to sample the abundant supply of rich grass which she has missed munching during the winter.
The whole walk takes us about an hour, by then we have walked all round the outer perimeter of the park. One section of the park has a small copse and it is here that Bushka and I part company for short while. She walks through a small hole in the undergrowth leading through to the copse while I walk around and meet up with her the other side. One thing I have learned about pigs is that they are creatures of habit and once they have a schedule they like to stick to it. I know that at certain places she will do certain things and the copse path is part of the schedule. A huge beech tree provides a great rubbing post which has to be used on every trip to the park and today was no exception. I could here small groans coming from within the woods as Bushka got down to some serious self indulgent body rubbing. Once through the copse we enter a large grassed field which is where she slowly munches her way to the path that leads to home again and all too quickly she is making her way out of the park and homeward bound.
Bushka returns home and finds a comfy spot to stretch out next to a warm radiator and drifts into a doze, after all, this walking business is quite tiring to a pig and there is all that sleep to catch up on. The first walk of the Spring has ended but I know that she will very quickly get into the habit of doing the walk on a daily basis once the weather settles.
Want to know about potbellied pigs?
We published this story about Bushka, because we believe it's important to educate the public to the fact that pigs and other so-called "farm" animals, can, and should be considered as our companions - just as we consider cats and dogs to be our companions. They are all sensitive, feeling, and loving creatures, just as we should be. They should not be food for our tables. If we truly love animals, we shouldn't eat any of them, nor wear their skins. (FLH) (d-2)
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