Reflection: Non-Art Interspecies Collaborations
Admiring the Hammies
By Erik Shalat (05/06/13 20:22:47)
Related animal: Pig

The biggest animals I see on a daily basis are dogs (or humans if youíre looking for a twilight zone answer). There is a certain homogenization of animals that you end up seeing in daily life. For me, seeing a raccoon is out of the ordinary. What iím getting at is that seeing such a relatively atypical animal like a pig is really cool. We went on a class field trip to Little Orphan Hammieís pig orphanage to interact with all the pigs therein.

Pigs have always been more of a concept than an actual species to me. Seeing pigs in real life is very different from seeing them adapted into media. My experience with them comes from movies like Babe and cartoons like Hey Arnold. Pigs in acuality are huge. And most of them arenít pink. And they donít have curly screw shaped tails. Their hair isnít soft and short, they have long stiff bristles and tough flakey skin. One thing that really fell into place for me was why the image of the pig rolling around in mud was so prominent. Seeing the pigs get in a big wet mud hole made perfect sense as I could feel the heat bearing down on me. I came to think of things from the pigís perspective, theyíre really not so different from dogs or cats, maybe just a little more top heavy. That puts them in a frame of reference iím more comfortable with.

I came to know some of the pigs by their personality. Petunia was always trying to impose herself into situations, expecting food and attention. Judge was more reserved and stoic but would shake peopleís hands when prompted. Another pig would squeal when you brushed her. Finally we went to go see Valentine, a farm pig. Valentine blew my mind, she was ludicrously large. She was the size of two large dogs stacked on top of each other. She was the nicest of all, licking people on the face and getting petted. The shame is that almost all these pigs come from bad homes. Pigs are often raised by people who donít expect them to grow to the size they are at Hammies. I can definitely understand where the desire comes from, all the media iíve seen growing up gave me a unrealistic expectation of what a pig is actually like. Pigs need space and attention that they donít get enough up in a cramped house or apartment.

The trip to the Little Orphan Hammies was illuminating, inspiring, and a lot of fun in the end. I feel like iíve broadened the range of animals that I think of as ďrealĒ. Itís easy to get trapped in a little bubble. Comfort Zone seems like the right term for it. This quarter in particular has been great, seeing pigs and cows and horses and everything in between. This would not be the last time I saw pigs in particular, and iím glad for that because pigs are amazing animals.

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