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Saturday, January 20, 2001

Story: Dottie's First Pig Rescue, The Bonnie and Clyde Story!

A True Pig Story By Pigs4Ever's Dottie Eggeman

On Friday June 9, 2000 we had a message on our machine about two potbelly pigs running loose.  Basically the message said: Could we come get them? Otherwise we will have to shoot them! Well, you KNOW my husband and I were going to do everything we could to save those two little pigs.

So on the following Sunday we went over to check out the situation. Apparently these pigs have been around for about a year, or at least since fall, but now are becoming a "perceived" nuisance. Coming across the alfalfa field and getting into the flower beds. They are living in the woods, surrounded by about an acre of wild berry bushes. The woods are across a 16 acre alfalfa field. Looked real nice and like hog heaven to me. I still can't believe they survived one of our Clearwater Mountain Idaho winters, though it is a bit milder where these people live.

We sat and waited in the driveway of the house, on the edge of the field, which had been planted but had no alfalfa growing in it yet, just dirt and weeds. I finally spotted one in the bushes, but no one would come out. Richard finally got up and went scouting around the bushes.

After about 5-10 minutes I heard pig sounds and two pigs come running out on to the edge of the field. Little did I know that Richard had quietly come within about 10 feet of them, talking softly and then stepped on a wet log and fell on his butt!! No wonder those pigs came tearing out of there!! Must have sounded like a bear crashing through the woods. LOL!

I am sure glad I had the binoculars. The woods were quite a distance away across that field. I noticed that they were on the small size compared to my two potbelly's. We estimated one (the female) at about 100 lbs. and the male at about 40 lbs.

Now came the question " HOW THE HECK DO WE CATCH THEM?". We had never done this before. I have two large kennels, but just don't see how I will get them into them, since I can't sneak up on them in the woods. So I asked a few friends who have done some rescue work for their suggestions.

The first thing out of their mouths was build a pen, fence them off. I said no that won't work we are in the middle of a big open field, I can't build a pen. They also told me that the longer I have to do this the better. Go out and make friends with them. Start out by putting food in the place you would like to try and catch them. Cook something that will smell really yummy. Sit a distance away VERY QUITE and let them eat.

Well now that the pen idea wasn't going to work I set out to make friends with these two pigs. This was not a hard job, but it did get tiring. I went over to see the pigs at least once a day if not twice (a 40 mile round trip!). My first chance to go over was Tuesday night.

I was planning on sitting and waiting for them to come out of the woods, but they were in the field when I got there. I grabbed the microwave popcorn and headed out. The good news is that they didn't run. I threw them some popcorn and of course they were leery, but did come in closer. Well, I went back to the car and got my bag so I could have something to sit on, the ground was wet from the rain we had been getting. Plus the grapes I brought were in it.

I just plopped myself on the ground and fed them popcorn and grapes. They had to come in close for the popcorn as you can't throw it very well.

I discovered that it was a male and female and at the time I am guessing that she is pregnant, I just didn't know how far along. She is larger than him and her teats are hanging some. I got a few whiffs of him so I KNEW he was not fixed.

It was fun being with them and having them come in close at times for the food. Once or twice the male found himself under my foot trying to get some popcorn that dropped. I was sitting cross legged. I even touched him once with my finger on the ear. I just loved their big eyes looking at me. They were so beautiful.

They are on the thin side now that I have seen them close up. No bones showing, just sort of thin. The people whose property the pigs are on said that someone was feeding them during the winter. They are a little skittish when I throw the food, but then will come in close for it. I can't make any quick movements at all.

This morning, Wednesday,  they were WAY across the field along the edge of the woods. I took Cheerios, carrots and two bananas. They were a little skittish but followed me a little ways back into the field.

I got my bag of goodies again and sat down with them coming in close and wandering away at times. The little boy didn't care for the carrots at all. I will take the microwave popcorn and grapes back this evening. They seemed to like those the best.

I really just want to reach out and grab them but know better. I got some straw today from the feed store and will put some in one of the kennels and will take it back with me this evening. I am planning on leaving one kennel there with no door on it so they can get used to it.
Wednesday evening I took the kennel and put it in the middle of the field where there is a small patch of grass growing. I then headed for the woods as the pigs were nowhere to be found.

I went part way up one of their trails and started shaking the bag of popcorn and smacking my lips. After a few minutes I see the bushes in front of me start to move. I am like "I sure hope that is you and not something else up there moving around!." Well it was Bonnie. Yes, they have been named Bonnie and Clyde.

She poked her head out of the bushes looking at me. I backed up some leaving a trail of popcorn for her to follow. She came to a log but wouldn't cross it so I backed up some more. I decided on reinforcements and got the grapes too. She came across and would root around for the popcorn and grapes, but no Clyde.

I think we were alone for 10 to15 minutes before Clyde showed up. He wouldn't come down the trail that we were on and used another one to go out into the field. So it was just the two of us in the field while Bonnie was making sure she got every thing that I had thrown on the trail.

I wasn't able to lure them to the kennel so I left a few goodies around and in the kennel.  I did watch from a distance before I left. They went near the kennel, but would have nothing to do with it.

Thursday, I didn't get over till the evening and this was the first time there was some sun. They were over at the edge of the woods and went into the brush when I came towards them. I shook the bag of popcorn and called their names. Bonnie was the first one to poke her head out and come over to me.

I just sat down right there and started feeding them. I had some french fries this time.  Both of them to took a fry out of my hand. Then I would sit with my hands on my legs and Clyde thought that my fingers looked just like french fries and would try to take a bite. I learned quickly not to leave my fingers out.

I then moved us right next to the kennel and laid a few french fries on the edge of the kennel. It took awhile, but Clyde did eat them. They had not touched any of the food I had left in the kennel the day before. Bonnie continued to eat out of my hands.

Friday morning Richard went with me for the first time. When we pulled in the driveway they were at that end of the field grazing. I got out with the can of Cheerios and they followed me up to where the kennel was.

Once there I had Richard feeding them and calling their names. He even laid on the ground and had them coming up to him. We were sitting apart from each other with space for them to go in between us. Bonnie didn't seem to have a problem, but Clyde said no way.

We took some goats milk and put it in some old bowls that we had. Clyde wanted nothing to do with it, but Bonnie sure drank it up. They also liked the blueberry pancakes that I had made that morning. We didn't stay long as the sun was finally out and it was getting hot fast.

We made an attempt at catching them on Sunday with no luck. We took lots of food and some wine coolers in hopes of getting them drunk enough to grab and put in the kennels. What a joke that was. After 7 wine coolers each the only affect was they had to pee! Back to the drawing board.

Bonnie & Clyde Pig Rescue - PART 2

On Monday, June 19th, I went over but didn't stay long as it started raining. They were at the edge of the field and came out to the center when they saw me. I noticed that Clyde's hair around his neck and shoulders was standing up sort of like a punk hair do. He was also being a skittish again when I would throw the popcorn.

Well upon a closer look I noticed several scrapes on his left side. I just prayed that Bonnie had done it and not some wild animal. He was keeping his distance from her too and not head butting like he had been. Clyde also had blood running down his right ear from the top of it.

When I went to leave I asked Jim if he had seen them fighting this morning. He said yes and that Clyde was squealing too. I guess Bonnie had had enough of his picking on her and put him back in his place.
It was cute watching Clyde run across the field and back into the woods to keep from getting wet. Bonnie hung around a little to make sure she had gotten all the popcorn and water. Then she casually walked across the field and into the woods.

Tuesday June 20th we tried some acepromozine pills with a beer chaser which someone had recommended. It had no effect on Clyde at all. After about two hours Bonnie was stumbling a little, but not enough to catch. Richard and I both made attempts to grab Clyde and ended up in the dirt. I'm glad no one was there with a camera. The good news is that they would at least come back to us after we had tried to grab them.

We finally decided that the original recommendation of building a pen just might be the only way we could capture them. On Thursday June 22 the hog panels we ordered arrived. They had to be shipped in, none to be found in Orofino. Richard bought 4 and we are using 3, setting them up in a triangle formation with two sides anchored by steel fence posts and the third side movable.

Bonnie and Clyde hung around while we set it up that afternoon. We then went in and set the water bowls and some food at the entrance. They were very leery, but did come up and in just a little. We left food and water inside when we left. They seem more interested in the water since the rain has stopped and it was getting hot. In fact, while I am pouring the water in the bowls they will put their noses underneath the running water.

Friday went well I think. I went alone this morning and just sat at the far end with my bowl of popcorn, some watermelon and jugs of water. It took them a few minutes, but they finally came in. I was surprised that Clyde came in the farthest. Bonnie was leery and would walk around behind it some. We both went over on Friday evening and just kept Bonnie and Clyde comfortable with the surroundings.

Saturday morning went fine. Richard came with me and just stood at the pen opening. They were pretty skittish, but did come in and out of the pen. Clyde RAN in and out of the pen! Saturday evening Richard came along again. When we got there the people that own the property were sitting outside with several chairs lined up. They invited guests to watch the show!! We were like: "Oh no not an audience". We even had to move the car so they could have a clear view!

Water bowls were first. They both took big drinks of water. I filled them again and they dumped them. LOL! I enjoyed watching as they tried to make a mud hole. While I sat in the corner of the pen feeding them I had Richard standing outside the fence where he would need to be when it is time to close up the pen with them inside. Both pigs did real good and didn't seem to mind Richard at all.

Before we left we moved the one section of fence in about a foot closer, leaving about a 4-5 foot opening. I threw some more popcorn, filled the bowls and helped make a mud hole before leaving. We decided to go for it on Sunday morning early. We did a few practice runs closing the pen up as quickly as possible. It was going smooth. We felt like pros!!

On Sunday we got up at 5:30am and were out the door at 7am. Needed to do this early as we are starting to warm up during the day now. When we got there they were at a far end of the field and I had to go get them to follow me back to the pen area. No problem.

It took a little bit to get them to the far end of the pen. I had a ton of food, half a watermelon cut up, a box of Cheerios, a large brown bag full of popcorn and a bag of dog food. I started throwing it all and making a nice smorgasbord for them. Richard took his place outside the pen opening ready to close it on them and wire it shut.

While Bonnie and Clyde were inside stuffing their faces Richard moved in and wired the pen closed. Step one was complete! All Richard had to do now was crawl over the fence and help me herd them into the kennels with the herding boards we made. (The herding boards were made out of plywood, 4' by 6' with hand holds cut out) Bonnie and Clyde seemed fine, for about 30 seconds!

Bonnie became riled up quickly. She went to one corner and started head butting the corner, but could not get out. She then tried to pick up the fence. It started to rise a bit, but Richard stepped down on it and ended that escape route. At this point Clyde was starting to get bent out of shape, but was too small to do anything serious.

Bonnie then headed, full speed, for the corner that Richard had closed up and wired shut. When she hit it the wire split like sewing thread. 14 gauge wire in 4 different spots!! Richard, being outside that corner, dove and caught Bonnie but Clyde slipped out the opening. Bonnie was placed in the middle of the enclosure and we quickly grabbed the herding boards and pinned her in the corner with the kennel. As soon as she was pinned, she just laid there quietly. Richard then picked her up and into the kennel she went.

OK, one down, one to go!

Richard thought for sure that Clyde was gone. He was just at the edge of the woods, but still in the field. I took off with the bag of popcorn and surprisingly he followed me back! Phyllis did say he would not leave Bonnie!! It took a lot of food just to coax him far enough into the pen so Richard could close the opening, but ten minutes later we had Clyde penned.

This time Richard was on the inside and we were able to corner him right away and get him into the kennel with out much fuss. Richard quickly cut the pen open with wire cutters so we could get them home. Jim, the property owner came out said it would be okay to back the car up to the pen on the alfalfa field. He also helped in loading them in.

We got them loaded and were home by 9am. The trip home was fine and rather quiet. I was surprised that they didn't scream when crated and barely moved around. I had to sit cockeyed as Bonnie's door was rattling and driving us nuts. Richard stayed with me and our new babies for about 30 minutes before going back to get the hog panels, sorting boards and whatever else we left behind.

I stayed with them for the next couple of hours throwing them food and filling the large water bowl that I took from the cats. I wanted them to be calm and get to know their new home. The cats didn't help at all!. Inquisitive as cats are, they wanted to check out the new family members. Tiger (our oldest male cat) would hide under the wood shed and look out from an opening that Richard left for them. The look in his eyes was priceless and I didn't have the camera with me. Clyde did check out the fence in a few spots, but never made an attempt to get out.

We are already planing on expanding their area after we get a couple of trees taken down. We took a number of pigtures of where they were living and the pen we set up.

I know that they miss the 11 acres that they had to roam. But they are now safe and will always have a home here with us.