In the days before Lockdown, Suburban Stroller was introduced to a rather unlikely resident of the suburbs. Violet the Vietnamese Pot-Bellied Pig has been a resident of Kenilworth, a suburb of Cape Town, for the past ten years. Violet shares her place of residence with five other creatures – four human and one canine.
Violet was born on a small holding in Tamboerskloof, a suburb bordering on Cape Town’s CBD. Paul and Joy adopted Violet when she was a few weeks old. When Violet’s biological mum was expecting, Joy could hardly contain her excitement. And finally the Big Day came. A short while later, the Bundle of Joy was brought back to the suburban home amidst great excitement and celebration.
In those days, Violet was … how shall I say it? Diminutive. She enjoyed her walks in Newlands Forest, trailing dutifully behind her parental homo sapiens. She also spent much of her early years in the house.
By and by, the family expanded to include two younger sisters – Maya (now seven), who introduced me to Violet, and her baby sister. Violet is generally good with the children, with Maya describing her to me as “funny and silly”. Paul and Joy nevertheless retain a level of caution when Violet is with the children.
The family also acquired an Australian Cattle Dog, named Uluru. After initially not seeing eye to eye, Violet and Uluru gradually developed a bond of friendship and spent much time together, including sleeping in each other’s company. They would go for walks together in Tokai Forest. People would stop Paul and Joy to comment about Uluru’s unusual breed – but would typically trail off mid-sentence when their attention was diverted to Violet trundling along behind. Sadly, Uluru’s canine successor is less friendly towards Violet – and simply cannot avoid mistaking Violet for pork chops. As a result, they are kept apart.
Violet’s presence unfortunately was not universally welcomed by the humans in the neighbourhood either – despite the fact that Violet maintains a clean habitat, does not smell at all and makes considerably less noise than the many dogs in the neighbourhood. In fact, Violet’s only loud verbal communication is when she is hungry.
After Violet had been a resident of Kenilworth for about five years, another resident of the suburb laid a complaint against her with the Cape Town City Council. It appears that the resident was of the view that creatures of Violet’s good-looks belonged only in the rural areas. The tragic day arrived when Violet was officially served with an Eviction Notice by the City of Cape Town. While Violet didn’t seem particularly perturbed by the legal turn of events, Paul was incensed and Joy was heartbroken.
They enlisted support of one of the more astute legal minds in Cape Town, attorney Stacy Moreland. Ms Moreland set to the task of defending Violet with vigour and discovered that the bylaw on which the City had been relying had in fact been repealed and was therefore invalid. After an intense period of negotiation, it was resolved that Violet could stay if the neighbours agreed. Fortunately, impassioned pleas to the neighbours were finally met with unanimous consent and Violet’s right to remain in the suburbs was secured.
Violet has enjoyed some fame in her life, including an appearance in the Hermanus Times. The paparazzi had captured a picture of her on Hermanus Beach. On that same occasion, Violet had been enjoying some time off-lead when she was suddenly spooked by a passing windsurfer on the lagoon. She broke into a panicked gallop – she can be surprisingly fast – headed straight in the direction of a bunch of teenagers carrying boogie boards. The youngsters took one look at this black beast charging towards them, and boards and sand went flying as they scattered in all directions.
One of Violet’s favourite pastimes is to be brushed. Often when she comes out of her pen in the morning, she looks rather like a hay monster. She then flops onto her tummy and enjoys a good brushing down from Joy. On the other hand, although she is “bathed” from time to time – by this read hosepipe, soap and broom – this is tolerated rather than enjoyed.
Violet’s diet includes brown rice, vegetables and oats. Her favourite foods are avocados, carrots, cucumber and mielies on the cob. She particularly likes crunchy foods. She therefore serves an important role in the household as a unit for the disposal and recycling of organic waste. Unfortunately, she can’t eat root vegetables, like potatoes, as they make her itch. And unlike dogs or humans, she can’t scratch her ears.
Sugar is also a no-no in her diet. Paul read a book about an animal lover who raised a pig, but the book ended tragically with the Pig dying a premature and horrible death. It wasn’t surprising because the lady related how she would always be feeding the pig custard tarts from the local bakery.
Finally, asked for other advice for wannabee suburban pig owners, Paul had the following to say. Check out the Council bylaws beforehand. Make sure that your porcine friend has plenty of space in the yard to move around. And check out the size of the biological parents before making the piglet adoption to get some idea of what is in store for you!