Exclusive Interview: Meet the Dads of Esther the Wonder Pig! »
Thanks to her dads Steve Jenkins and Derek Walter, tens of thousands of fans (us included!) get to peek into the surprising and always adorable daily doings of Esther The Wonder Pig, the clever, undeniably photogenic 400-pound pig! It’s truly a delight each day to browse Steve and Derek’s witty status updates and glamorous pics of Esther living her genius, safe, and cozy life in Toronto with her loving dads and dog siblings!
Vegansaurus’ Sarah E. Brown interviewed Esther’s loving dads about life with Esther, how she came into their lives, and their future plans to continue spreading awareness about pigs as pets, not food.
Vegansaurus: What surprised you most about adopting Esther when she was a “mini-pig”?
Steve & Derek: How much attention she needed. It was like having a child running around the house. We couldn’t let her out of our sight or she would get into everything!
V: How did you two meet? How long have you been together? How long into your relationship did Esther come into the picture?
S&D: We’ve been together for over 13 years now. Steve is a realtor, Derek is a professional magician. We met as teenagers working at a restaurant. Esther didn’t come along until about 12 years in.
V: On social media, we all get to see the amazing images of Esther in her full glory—we also get to see her sassy personality. How did you decide to start documenting her presence in your life through social media and your website? And who posts most of the updates?
V: How did you decide to name her Esther?
S&D: We just wanted a fun and “comfortable” name. For whatever reason, Esther seemed like a very traditional, human name and it just clicked. There wasn’t really any sort if inspiration in particular, it just worked.
V: You’ve recently gotten a lot of press, and over 76,000 followers on Facebook (congrats!). In your recent Mercy For Animals (MFA) interview, you talked about how people have reached out to you. What’s the coolest connection you’ve made so far since adopting Esther and telling your story?
S&D: That’s really hard to answer. We’ve heard from some incredible people. Some that still make our heads spin to be honest. We got to do an interview with Sam Simon, and we’ve been on Ellen’s good news blog. Friends at Mercy for animals and PETA have shared about us. There have been some amazing people that run blogs of their own, and have become good friends already. We even have some celebrity followers on Twitter. It’s really crazy.
V: Besides apples, what are Esther’s favorite foods?
S&D: She loves pretty much any fruit or candy. They’re just like humans so if it’s a treat for us, it’s a treat to her.
V: Do you recommend adopting a pig? What is your advice to someone thinking of adopting a pig in an urban setting?
S&D: Be super careful. They are a ton of work and will require some major life adjustments. We had to pig proof our house, learn how to manage and train her and it’s way different than a dog. Pigs are so smart! Esther can open doors, cupboards, and even our fridge. We had to re-evaluate where we keep everything! It was a huge learning curve. We wouldn’t really advise it only because if the work it took. She’s awesome now but caused many a soul searching conversations. It was tough. We wouldn’t trade her for the world but it definitely wasn’t easy. Our advice is do plenty of research and make sure you’re up for the challenge. If you do decide you’re up for it, know it is the most incredible and rewarding experience of our lives. She really opened our eyes and as far as we’re concerned, made us better people. We love her like you wouldn’t believe.
V: Are there any resources that helped you when you first went vegan or first adopted Esther (i.e. pig care tips, etc.) that you’d like to share?
S&D: We found it really hard to get information and hope to change that. We learned on our own as we went along, taking the odd note from websites or our vet. That was the hardest part: How the hell do you teach a pig?
V: Do you have any future plans you’d like to share with our readers?
S&D: We do want to start a sanctuary and will start fundraising very soon. We’ll be opening the Esther store on our website
Thanks so much, Esther’s Dads, Derek and Steve! And thanks to Esther for being so, well, wonderful!All images included with permission by and courtesy of Derek and Steve and Esther the Wonder Pig.
Yes, your dogs is smiling: Humans can recognize emotions in other animals »
"Classifying dogs’ (Canis familiaris) facial expressions from photographs," a study by Tina Bloom and Harris Friedman published in February in scientific journal Behavioural Processes, has shown that people can correctly identify emotions in dogs’ faces. It used a series of photographs of one dog’s face (meet Mal the Belgian shepherd!) and involved 50 human volunteers of varying degrees of experience with dogs, who were asked to identify the dog’s emotional state in each photo. The results?
Both groups [“people experienced and inexperienced with dogs”] were able to read the dog’s emotions. Paradoxically, experienced people were less accurate reading aggressiveness. Experienced people were better identifying behaviorally defined situations.
With only one dog and 50 volunteers, it wasn’t exactly a rigorous study, but … you totally know when your dog is happy or ashamed or surprised, right? And now science totally supports your claims.
[Photo from Casa-Rodríguez Collection via Flickr]
Buy a t-shirt, help animals! They’re dope and available this week only! »
I totally heart these sweatshirts and tees. It’s the intersection of my love for type, clothes, and animals. The concept behind the shirts is interesting too. This site Sevenly.org runs a fundraiser each week where they sell limited edition (I think) shirts and donate $7 of each sale to the chosen charity of the week. Their goal is to raise money for the charity but also, by making things related to the charity that people can buy and wear, they raise awareness for the cause. And this week, the cause is the Humane Society! So for every shirt sold, seven bucks goes to HSUS. More importantly: you get a cool shirt! I kid, I kid. But looks like you only have until Sunday to buy so you best get on that.
YOU GUYS. The Cute Show went to the Montreal Wiener Dog Races! In these three minutes and 13 seconds you will see racing dachshunds! Dachshunds in costume! Dachshunds jumping through hoops! A 14-week-old dachshund puppy named Arthur who was born without eyes!
The Montreal Wiener Dog races were organized to raise awareness and funds for dachshund rescue organizations; this year’s races benefitted Animal Adoption Montreal and Helping Homeless Pets. You can see more videos of the event at the official site.
Hey, animal-rights advocates in North Dakota! Here is some news you can use!
North Dakota Pets Rally to Fight Animal Cruelty
There are only two states in the U.S. that don’t recognize animal cruelty as a serious crime: North and South Dakota. A measure on the ballot this November seeks to change that in North Dakota.
Pets of all stripes have come out in support of Measure 5, which would make extreme animal cruelty to dogs, cats and horses a felony in the state.
If your pet supports this measure, you can upload his pic here.
Get it together, North Dakota. South Dakota is the superior Dakota by dint of Mount Rushmore alone; by protecting your pets, you can achieve the higher status your geographical location would seem to warrant!
If you don’t believe us, trust the endorsements Measure 5 has received by organizations you love, like HSUS, Best Friends Animal Society, and the Animal Legal Defense Fund. And if you don’t care about them, care about these 100 percent adorable animals who are all about protecting their brethren and sistren. Yes on 5, North Dakotans!
Tiny dog saves his owner’s life, like a boss. »
I read this story this morning and ‘bout died. It’s so awesome! Over in the U.K., Toby and his 81-year-old owner Derek, pictured above, were on a walk in the woods when Derek slipped on some crazy bridge over a creek and fell into a bunch of mud. He managed to cling to the bridge railing but as he said, “you can’t hold your grip for long at my age.” Scary!
They were walking with his other dog Bruno who apparently just wandered off when Derek fell. It’s OK, Bruno! We all have different stress responses. But Toby knew his owner needed help and he sprang into action!:
He ran a quarter-of-a-mile past bushes and apartments to reach the security office which was manned. Toby barked anxiously and staff knew there was a problem and followed Toby back to the incident scene. The dog led the way and kept stopping for helpers to catch up.
Go Toby! What a hero! To reward him, Derek and his wife are going to take him on holiday (that means vacation in English). You deserve it, little guy. I wonder if Figaro would save me? He’s got a lot of anxiety and I feel like sometimes people with a lot of anxiety are great in emergency situations because, like, they’ve been preparing for it their whole lives while everyone else was busy being normal. Maybe it’s true for dogs as well! I’ll try to slip on a bridge and see.
Does anybody have a story like this about their dog (or other pet?) I’d love to hear it!
New favorite site: I Heart My Rescue »
I ❤ My Rescue is a new site from Brooklyn Animal Action that is all about rescued pets. Here’s one such pet above! This little girl is Hypatia and she was rescued from a dumpster at six weeks old. As you can see, she’s doing great.
Here’s a description of the site’s mission:
I Heart My Rescue is dedicated to rescued animals and the people who love them. Submit the story and photo of your rescued pal and we’ll post it. Our mission is to spread the word about the many joys rescue animals bring, encouraging folks to adopt a rescue and support their local animal rescue organization.
If there’s one thing I love, it’s rescued pets! With all the doom and gloom we see, it’s nice to know there are some happy endings out there. Who’s going to submit?!
Kitty reunited with his owner after a three-day, six-mile hike »
You heard it! This woman, Oliphant (?!!!) gave her cat Wollie to the shelter when her husband had a stroke. When her husband recovered, Oliphant’s daughter tried to adopt Wollie back, but before she could! Wollie escaped from the shelter and walked the six miles back home! Cray! In three days, no less. I have no idea how you did it, Wollie, but congrats on being reunited with your mama!
This ad is funny! You know me, on the ad beat again; and I gotta say, this is a cute video. And I totally learned the message: spay/neuter at four months. And that’s the point, right? To plant the message? They have another video that explains the majority of pet owners believe in fixing their pets, it’s just that many don’t realize their pet can get preggers so early. My vet said to spay my Mitsy at two pounds, but four months is a much more tangible deadline.
OMG Mitsy was so cute at two pounds! And she was a thug about her surgery. She came home from getting spayed like nothing happened and then totally ripped her pain-killer patch off. She was pulling at it and I kept trying to stick it back down, and then she just totally ripped it off, pulling fur out and all! She was like, “sheeeet, I don’t need no pain killers!” Straight thug.
Now we need a series that targets male pet owners who have male pets and have some weird hangup about snipping their pet’s nads. I’m like, dudes, grow the eff up!
If Armageddon Comes, What’ll You Do with the Cat? Take a Workshop and Make a Plan! »
Zuki could eat for like a year on all that food.
Of course not; no one likes to think about that stuff—except survivalists, Mormons, and extremely responsible people, which we are not. Luckily there’s a class to make the thinking easy, in Milpitas on Wednesday evening. Deets below.
- Have a plan. All good heists and rescues start with a plan. What’ll you do with pet/friend if you have to evacuate? DON’T ABANDON YOUR KITTY/DOGGIE! Take ‘em somewhere safe, like “with you.”
- Stash stuff. Like food, litter, leashes, toys, water, medical records. Maybe put it all in one place, like a kit. You’ll thank yourself later. Maybe you should have a kit for yourself, and put the pet stuff there too. Maybe you should get a better job so you can pay someone to worry about stuff like that on your behalf.
- Bring pets indoors in a crisis. That way you can watch them and they won’t freak out as much.
Or to for real learn things:
"Santa Clara county Activists For Animals Presents:
Title: “Be Pet Prepared,” a Workshop for disaster pet-preparedness
Date: Wed., March 7
Time: 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Location: Milpitas Public Library Auditorium, 1400 Main St., Milpitas
Phone: (408) 355.0436
Notes: We have lots of disasters in the Bay Area—earthquakes, fires, and floods. If you share your home with companion animals, are you ready to meet their needs in a disaster as well as your own? Come and find out more about how to be prepared when the unexpected happens. Take home a list of supplies you’ll need for your animal disaster kit, and see demonstrations of some useful techniques for taking care of your animals in a disaster. You’ll also find out how to volunteer as a disaster responder for animals.
Our own Lisa Towell will be our speaker:
Lisa Towell is a trained animal disaster responder. She has been deployed to help dogs and cats in disasters in three different states. She has also worked with Humane Society Silicon Valley and Santa Clara County to improve our local plans for helping animals in the event of a disaster. She lives with two cats, and has an emergency kit filled with cat supplies all ready to go.
Please RSVP to make sure we have enough literature and handouts for everyone! And please do not call the library.