Tuffy is a potbelly pig whose best friend in the
world was a little white potbelly. When they were youngsters
(right photo), they ran off together unmindful of cars, poachers,
vandals, or other dangers and stayed away for hours. I imagined the
two little rascals using their snouts to dig and shovel and unearth
succulent goodies that the earth yields up only to the savvy.
During the rescue of Tuffy's family (so named because she was
tough), Tuffy escaped. I vowed to reunite Tuffy with her family.
The stench of death permeated the air at the "farm", a
pig lay dead inside one of the three dilapidated houses on the property.
With cars on the road, irate neighbors, folks who saw a good
meal, poison, and disease, conspired against Tuffy, she was doomed
if we couldn't get her.
For 6 weeks our efforts led nowhere. Following severe storms,
Tuffy disappeared and a butcher knife was left ominously nearby!
We posted a "Reward" sign offering $250 for her safe capture.
From calls that came in, we discovered that Tuffy had traveled 2
miles away! But it gave us hope that she was alive! We began to leave
food again, hoping she would rediscover her old home. One day I went
back and the bread had been eaten. Had the chickens eaten it? (They
were later also rescued) I'd grown keenly aware of differences between
Tuffy's food remains and those of the chickens. The chickens always
left some crust, and lots of crumbs. They never ate the carrots.
Tuffy, on the other hand, left nothing.
Looking closely, every crumb was gone and the little shriveled
mini-carrots were gone! Tuffy's back! I yelled. I didn't see her
that day, but I KNEW she was back.
On the third day of believing strongly that she was there, I
heard a great rustling of the high vegetation, and Tuffy appeared
in all her glory! She seemed to gigantic - much like Mighty Joe Young,
but she was little Tuffy all right.
Tuffy in new home with an audience
Photo by Sara Whalen
I was thrilled. But now, how to get her. At this time, I got
a call about a horrible poaching situation (mentioned on page 11)
and the caller turned out to be a carpenter. I went there to help
work on that case, and he reciprocated by putting a door up on a
barn!!! We tied a long cord to the door and threw Tuffy's favorite
food deep into the barn. Leaving for about 5 minutes, we gave Tuffy
a chance to well inside. Knowing we had only one chance to play that
card, we sneaked up and I quickly pulled the rope. Horrifyingly,
the bolt didn't lock as it had during the practice trials!! But Pete
stepped to the door and latched it. For the first time in two months
we had her confined, but it was 8 p.m. We called the Gardiner Animal
hospital and begged Dr. Goodnow, to come out immediately.
got our call that we had Tuffy as he and his family were sitting
down to dinner, so he brought his entire family with him. (Dr. Goodnow,
Tuffy and Peter photo left) After tranquilizing her, she was
brought to Gardiner Animal Hospital. Dr. Goodnow stayed up all night
putting cold compresses on Tuffy's head as she was greatly stressed
by the capture. After several days of being medically watched and
adjusting to captivity, we reunited her with the rest of her family
at Pets Alive, a no-kill sanctuary.
Marilyn and Peter rescuing ducks
A big thank you to all those who helped in the rescue of so many
animals over the weeks - NJARA, Joe Miele, Marilyn Leybra, Peter
Muller, SCAR and especially Eric Ayotte who put in so many hours,
to J.M. who built the door, and especially to Dr. Goodnow of Gardiner
Eric Ayotte rescuing a Guinea hen
Thank you to Pets Alive for taking the potbellies, and Oasis
for taking the waterfowl and peacocks.