Animal lovers everywhere have seen countless pictures of those so-called "mini pigs." They have these tiny little hooves, cute curly tails, and are just the cutest little things. However, the truth behind them is usually a lot more suspicious.
Mini pigs are sold to people who don't realize that they do grow. They don't stay that same tiny size forever, they actually grow to be the size of a medium-large size dog. But for one family, their mini pig ended up getting a whole lot bigger.
Steve Jenkins shared his story in Reader's Digest, and it's simultaneously a cautionary tale and the story of found friends, and it is absolutely wonderful.
Jenkins was living in a small house just outside of Toronto with his partner, Derek Walter, and a roommate. They also had two dogs and two cats sharing the home as well.
One day, out of the blue, he received a Facebook message from a former friend. "Hey Steve. I know you’ve always been a huge animal lover. I have a mini pig that’s not getting along with my dogs. I’ve just had a baby, and I can’t keep the pig.”
He considered it for a while, but decided it would be smart to do his research first. But a few hours later, before he had a chance to look into it much, or even talk it over with his partner, he received a second message saying, “Someone else is interested, so if you want her, great. If not, this other person will take her.”
"You’re probably smart enough to recognize this as a manipulative tactic, and normally I’m smart enough, too," Jenkins admitted. "But I was not letting that pig go. So without thinking it through, I told my former classmate that I’d take the animal. I gave her my office address, and we agreed to meet there in the morning."
After agreeing without his partner's knowledge to take on another animal, he finally got to his research, only to find out that "mini pigs" aren't real. These pigs usually grow to be around 70 lbs. But he didn't care, that was the size of his pit bull terrier and he wasn't going to turn away this pig just yet.
When he met her, she was only about 20 cm long. "The poor thing had chipped pink nail polish on her little hooves and a tattered sequined cat collar around her neck," Jenkins said. "She looked pathetic yet lovable."
However his partner was not so enamored by the little pig. Even though Jenkins believed she would stay small, he was slow to warm up. It took two weeks before he even agreed to naming her.
"He started off referring to the pig as Kijiji," Jenkins said. "He wasn’t going to give a name to an animal we weren’t keeping. But two weeks in, he stopped calling her Kijiji, and we christened her: we wanted to evoke a wise old soul, and 'Esther' felt right."
But when they brought Esther to the vet, they were hit with a surprising revelation. The vet told Jenkins that the pig he had adopted was most likely a commercial pig. “When you have a commercial pig—a full‐size pig—the owners will generally have the pig’s tail cut back," the vet explained. "This minimizes tail biting, which occurs when pigs are kept deprived in factory farm environments. If Esther really is six months old, she could be a runt.”
So to find out what they were dealing with, Jenkins started tracking her growth. But the problem was she was already over the 70lbs he had predicted and she was still young.
Esther kept growing, and growing, and then she grew some more until she weighed around 650 lbs. But the problem was, now she was family.
Instead of finding a new home for Esther, Jenkins and his partner moved to a bigger home and were inspired to open their own animal rescue called Happily Ever Esther Farm Sanctuary.
Now Esther has all the room she needs, and she's inspired her owners to make a difference and help out other animals in need.