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Out & About: Thetford’s Dudley the Mini Pig Is an Advocate for His Breed

  • Michelle Jenks, of Thetford, and her pet pig Dudley. (Valley News — Eleanor Kohlsaat)

  • Dudley the pig at his Thetford home. (Valley News — Eleanor Kohlsaat)



Valley News Correspondent
Saturday, July 21, 2018

Thetford — Baby pigs are tiny and adorable. Adult pigs, generally speaking, are neither; plus, they have voracious appetites.

People who acquire pet piglets — even the mini varieties — are often surprised and disenchanted when the formerly lap-sized creature attains the size of a coffee table, and they end up surrendering it to an animal shelter or farm sanctuary.

When Michelle Jenks, of Thetford, bought Dudley, her Juliana mini pig, the Rhode Island breeder assured her he would only reach 40 pounds, max. But apparently no one told Dudley this, because he hit 40 pounds and kept going. And going. Now, nearly five years later, he weighs in at 184 pounds.

Unlike other pet owners, though, Jenks didn’t consider getting rid of Dudley. She still thinks he’s adorable — “He’s such a snuggle bug” — and the pig continues to live in the house alongside Jenks, her husband Zebulon, and their dog Bailey, a boxer/Labrador retriever mix. Dudley likes to go for hikes with the family and to ride in the third-row backseat of their car. He sleeps on a special bed in the living room and asks to be tucked in every night. His favorite foods include Cheerios, peanut butter and carrots, along with special pig chow.

Jenks now believes that the way some people keep mini-pigs small is to deprive them of food, which strikes her as rather unfair to a species that’s designed to eat and put on weight.

“He’s very food-driven,” she said. Not only that, but pigs are also very intelligent, so keeping one in the house can be a challenge. All of the family’s cabinets are child-proofed.

“I know why they call it pig-headed,” Jenks said. “He’s like a 3-year-old. He knows what buttons to push.”

Dudley stays in the house all day, monitored by his people via webcam, then he goes to the bathroom outside when they get home from work. When he needs a bath, Jenks hoses him down in an outdoor shower. “He’s very clean,” she said. “I think he’s cleaner than the dog.”

Jenks and Dudley will appear at a program at the Etna Library on Thursday at 6 p.m., where children and adults can interact with the pig and ask questions about him.

Luckily, Dudley was socialized quite a lot at a young age and continues to appear regularly at weddings and other events (the couple caters on the side).

“He’s really good around kids,” said Jenks. “The little kids are all over him and he’s so good and calm about it.”

She hopes meeting Dudley will educate people about mini pigs and make them think twice about acquiring one as a pet.

“I love him,” she said, “but he’s not for everyone.”