While one little piggy went to the market and another stayed home, a particular Nanaimo piggy found himself at obedience class with a handful of pooches.
For the past couple of weeks, a four-month-old kunekune mixed-breed pig named Rupert and his owners Tyler Kyle and Jessica Babcock have been attending canine obedience classes at Best Paw Forward.
Despite being the only pig in a room full of dogs, Rupert gets along fine and just like his canine classmates, he is there for a reason.
“He is very food driven and until he is full he will make noise,” Kyle said.
Kyle and Babcock decided to enrol Rupert in classes after learning about another pig that attended Best Paw earlier this year. The couple said they want Rupert to learn basic manners and obey them, the same way any pet owner would.
“We just want general manners, like a dog. Not that he jumps on people but he will beg and squeak and squeal and we want to be able to walk him on a leash with no problems,” Kyle said.
Robyn Andexser, owner and lead trainer, said having a pig in class is “fantastic” and that Rupert is a happy and interested learner who isn’t afraid of his fellow canine classmates.
“He is eager to learn new things,” Andexser said. “His tail is wagging all the time and he is a happy pig.”
Classes typically last an hour and focus on positive re-enforcement techniques, often using clickers and treats as a reward for good behavior. Andexser said pigs are smart animals and with training, can learn obedience the same way a dog can.
“With positive re-enforcement you can really teach an animal anything,” she said.
According to Kyle and Babcock, Rupert has never had a fight with a dog, doesn’t bite and has a serious appetite. But despite a heavier diet than that of a dog, Rupert, in many ways acts the same as a dog.
“You get up on the couch and he will hop on your lap and watch a movie with you,” Kyle said.
Raising Rupert, as with any new pet, has had its challenges, but the couple said it has been worth it and having a pet pig has been an enjoyable experience.
“It is the same struggles that you have with a puppy,” Babcock said. “He is just adorable and he is a good pet.”