By Gabrielle D’Addario
It happened by accident. I was throwing an end of summer carnival with a petting zoo that included baby Vietnamese pot-bellied pigs. As I snuggled with one of the little squealers, I became completely awestruck by its cuteness. I gushed and asked the pig wrangler if I could keep one. Much to my surprise, he said yes. Not sure if he was serious, I decided to leave it up to fate.
A few weeks later, I found myself hooked up to an IV at the UCLA Infusion Center, where I undergo treatment for a chronic illness I have. I try to maintain a positive attitude when I’m there but it was one of those days where I was feeling emotional. That’s when I saw a text on my phone that said, “Hey, are you around this afternoon? I’ve got your pig.” In an instant, my day went from lousy to great. Without a second thought in my head, I responded with my address. A few hours later, up pulled the butcher’s van (yes, he would have been used for meat) and I was being handed a crate with a tiny black pig my kids named Gilbert.
Now my family and I didn’t exactly have a discussion about the pig, which was a mistake on my end. My husband and I have different viewpoints on having a pig in the house. I grew up dreaming of becoming a zoologist while my husband probably couldn’t tell you the names of any of his childhood pets. Our daughter has inherited my love for all animals and thinks a pig is the best pet ever, but my son takes after his dad and still doesn’t approve. They’re big fans of his Roomba like vacuuming skills to clean up the food they throw on the floor but not so much when it comes to his high pitched squeals when they try to pick him up.
That said, the people of Playa Vista are thrilled to meet Gilbert. The amount of happiness I see the pig bring to others warms my heart. Last week, I had a girl walk up to us at Runway, sniffling from crying, and she said, “I’ve had the worst day and seeing his cute little tail wagging just made me so happy!” Reactions like that have been quite common which has led me to want to train him to be a therapy pig where he can visit kids, or patients or go anywhere he can bring support. I’ve even heard there’s a therapy pig at the San Francisco Airport.
At 12-weeks old, Gilbert’s about 20 lbs. but he’ll grow to be over 100 lbs. As he gets bigger it’s unclear if we’ll be able to keep him at home. Sending Bert back to the farm, where he’ll definitely be slaughtered, isn’t an option in my mind so I’m considering other ideas like finding a Playa Vista business that is open to having an office pet.
In the meantime, Gilbert loves to meet people so if you see us walking around town, feel free to stop, say hello or get a selfie. If you give him a treat, he might even show you some of his tricks.
You can follow Gilbert on Instagram at @ThePlayaVistaPig or send him an email at email@example.com.