GiC and the author do not promote buying animals from Taobao. These articles are meant for entertainment purposes only. 

Winston’s rapid ascension through piggy puberty was tough adjusting to. She no longer could cuddle with poppa anymore as I’d awake frequently to her attempting to eat my nose. Her hunger knew no bounds as she once ate paint off the wall and chewed through plumbing (if my old landlord is reading this, there’s nothing I could do. She was in charge).

When she did have occasional accidents, she at least attempted to do so in secrecy.

There was one night, around 3am in which I had to use the bathroom. I dared not wake Winston as she had already chewed through my slippers in an attempt to consume my toes and I just didn’t want to deal with her relentlessness at the time. Leaving the lights off, I tip toed to the bathroom door and of course tripped into Shelly, the mannequin warding off bad spirits. Sparing details, we tumbled to the ground as the rusty metal base sliced through my right thigh like warm butter. Needless to say Winston awoke with squeals that would make 100 roosters crowing sound like a mouse hiccupping. One questions where they are in life whilst laying on the ground in a dark Shanghai apartment, bleeding from the rump as your beloved squealing pig first licks your face as if they’re trying to ease the pain but soon go straight for the tasty toes with hungry bites..

Shelly in the background, waiting to strike. The tetanus shot required from this mess is a whole ‘nother story about Chinese hospitals.

Much like a human teen going through puberty, her changes weren’t strictly physical. She was now not just spunky but incredibly sassy. The new pig on the block. She loved chasing stray cats around our building whilst out on walks, so she devised a method to do so on her own terms. When near trees, she’d run around them once or twice, then use the tension she created to break free of her leash. I was just as mad at her boldness as I was in awe of her ingenuity.

Fast-forward, I had one month before needing to leave China and one big problem; the US didn’t allow certain animals to be imported from China, Winston included. I reached out to a few animal lovers groups and unfortunately was met with hostility. I received lectures on how I was an awful person for raising a pig in China and perpetuating the cycle. Funny thing, these groups were set up to help animals yet nobody offered to help. Akin to a doctor refusing to treat a patient because they don’t agree with how they received the injury. 

I’m sorry sir, I don’t agree with lifting pianos by oneself and therefore won’t treat you. 

So I began interviewing folks on my own; half of them were licking their chops, gazing at Winston while wondering how many slices of bacon she’d provide. The other half just showed up because they wanted a few selfies for Weibo. With one week left, things weren’t looking good for us.

Finally, there was a warm-hearted person in one of the groups contacted who wanted to help. She put me in touch with a workplace retreat center a few hours outside of Shanghai. They already had a goat, some ducks, and dogs in a petting zoo-esque area. Perfect, Winston would have a new little family instead of feeding one.

Winston’s new partner in crime

What could have been the last embrace between poppa and piggy

The deal went down the next day, my eyes did a waterfall impression as I hugged her goodbye for perhaps the last time. She displayed her somberness as well by offering one last attempt to chew through my shoes and eat my toes. This time, I didn’t mind if she bit them right off.

16 months later...

After traveling in the rain by bus for two hours, I was back in China and roaming around a farm village looking for my baby. Directions to the petting zoo were vague at best but people were friendly, helping me get closer to a reunion with Winston. 

The small farm-village was quite the contrast for a pig accustomed to the city life

Part of me didn’t really believe the ‘petting zoo’ owners stayed true to their word and had sold her to a butcher. After another hour of searching for the farm in a steady rain, I stumbled across the place. An old toothless man greeted me, presumably Winston’s new step-father. 

Winston’s step-father and father before a heated debate about whether Winston prefers belly or back scratches

He led me through a garden to an area I had recognized from the videos the owner had been sending me through Wechat (which had ceased a few months prior). My heart began pounding as we neared her little wooden house. We walked up to the entrance and to my amazement, there stood the proud princess herself.

A wave of emotions washed over me but she stayed in her enclosure, away from the rain. No worries, this wasn’t my first rodeo. The chicken nuggets were pulled out and Winston came right over. After scarfing a few down, I put just my hand out for her to sniff. Her tail suddenly started swinging side to side. I couldn’t wait any longer and hopped the fence for a muddy hug. Her goat friend neighed in either jealousy or approval.

We spent an hour together hanging out before the step-father indicated he was closing for the night. Some words were whispered in Winston’s ears that are just between us, then hopped the fence and reluctantly headed out. Now as you’ve probably noticed by now, there’s a healthy layer of humor and satire within this story. Everything else aside, something profound then happened that warms my core to this day. I heard a big thud and loud oinks. I turned around to see that Winston had jumped so she was standing with her hooves on the fence, looking sideways towards me and oinking. She hadn’t made a single noise up until that point. Either she wanted one last shot at eating my toes or she understood the situation on some level. Needless to say I ran back and hugged the ham out of that beautiful creature.

Disclaimer – The author does not condone purchasing Taobao pigs. Some basic research will reveal many of these online pigs are advertised as teacups but are indeed mini-pot belly pigs (still huge) or full on potbellied pigs. If you have a profound desire to play with pigs after reading these articles, contact the author and he’ll schedule a trip to see Winston together. If you’re intent on living with one of these plump pooches, find a reputable breeder and make sure you’re in it for the long haul (George Clooney’s mini pot-bellied pig lived to be 19) with adequate space.

Clooney’s camp never responded to a plea of collaboration on getting Winston out of China

Sweet baby Winston and all her glory, outside her current home. The wood isn’t mahogany or sanded but it’s exponentially better than ending up in a belly