What's Up With Pirro's Pigs?

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This is not one of Pirro's potbellied pigs. Photo: iStockphoto.com


The Jeanine Pirro–keeps–on–truckin' piece on the front of today's Times "Metro" section reports that the GOP candidate for attorney general "rides around in a silver Ford Explorer, teasing her staff, chatting about her pets." What it doesn't mention is what those pets are — two potbellied pigs, which the paper of record previously described as "pampered." It reminded us of something that has long intrigued us: Why would you want pigs as pets? And how do you pamper them?

Vietnamese potbellied pigs belong to a breed of small, domesticated swine with short snouts and huge, protruding guts. They weigh between 100 and 300 pounds and tend to live about fifteen years. "Yuppie puppies," as they're sometimes called, are incredibly intelligent animals that can be obedience-trained and coaxed into performing neat tricks, like riding a skateboard or spelling the word "ham" with puzzle letters. They are generally curious, playful, affectionate, quiet (aside from their amusing grunting noises), and clean. Most of all, they make supercool pets because they are, well, pigs.

Like a cat or dog, a potbellied pig should be neutered and given yearly vaccinations. A dedicated owner, however, will trim hooves, rub lotion on the hog's flaky skin, examine its undersides and inner ears for parasites, and pull out handfuls of its wiry coat to help it with its semi-annual "blow out," or shedding season.

The Pirros' two pigs, Homer and Wilbur, certainly get the above maintenance. The pampering comes in the form of an $1,800-custom-built wrought-iron pigpen and chauffeured trips to the vet by Pirro staff members, at taxpayer expense.

Though Pirro has said her pigs remind her of her rural upbringing and keep her in touch with the values of countrified upstaters, she may also find their behavior a touch familiar: They're headstrong and sensitive, and they demand large amounts of attention and throw snorting, shrieking temper tantrums when their desires are not met. It is also natural for potbellied pigs to mate with more than one member of their herd. There's no word, though, on whether jilted herd members then call Bernie Kerik for help.

Hope Reeves