Molly McGrath had always wanted a pet pig — and this summer, one fell from the sky.
At least, that's what they believe likely happened. McGrath works at a veterinary clinic, and a couple found a tiny piglet on a rural dirt road and brought her to the clinic for surrender. The vet said the piglet was newly born and had little chance of survival.
She weighed less than 400 grams, just 0.87 pounds.
McGrath, who with her family runs South Shore Soaps on a small farm with 20 goats in DeSable, P.E.I., wanted to give the piglet a chance.
"The vet did give her a grave prognosis," McGrath said. "The umbilical cord was still attached, so we weren't sure if she had received colostrum from the mum yet." Colostrum is the first form of milk produced by the mother and contains antibodies to protect against disease and infection.
"It was literally hour by hour the first few days," she said. Family members took turns getting up every two hours around the clock to feed Lilith goat's milk and goat's colostrum.
"Luckily, I have a teenager who loves to be up most of the night," McGrath said. "It was really a family event."
The vet continued to check on Lilith, and after the fist week gave a guarded thumbs-up to the piglet's chances of survival.
Scooped up by a bird?
That was 12 weeks ago. Lilith is now thriving and living in the McGraths' house.
They're still not sure exactly what breed Lilith is, except that she is a miniature.
And they're still not sure where she came from. McGrath said the people who found her said they'd searched the area and knocked on doors for a couple of days but didn't find anyone who knew anything about a miniature pig or even kept pigs.
"We think that she may have been scooped up by a bird of some sort and then dropped," McGrath said. "Fortunately, her rescuers were at the right place at the right time."
It looks like fate chose the right hands for Lilith to fall into. McGrath had already researched how to look after pot-bellied pigs. She also knew a breeder in Ontario, who helped advise her on caring for a newborn.
"I like to help wherever I can, especially with animals," McGrath said. "And then, it pulled at my heartstrings seeing this poor little thing.… Everything for a reason, I guess."
Like a puppy but 'smarter'
Lilith has become South Shore Soap's mascot — a little ironic, since the soap is made with milk from the family's goats.
She's also a bit of a scamp. For instance, when the family had the dishwasher open recently, she tried to climb up on the door to lick the dinner plates.
"They are so intelligent, so smart," McGrath enthused. "You need to stay one step ahead.
"It's like having a puppy except, I think, a lot smarter," she said, noting it only took about three days to potty train Lilith. "She's really good at asking at the back door to go out."
'Squeaking at the door'
Lilith sleeps at night and naps in a dog crate, and runs freely in the house with the family's other pets during the day, eating mini pig pellets from a dish on the floor as well as fruits and vegetables. She also likes to go outside.
"She does not like the cold, so she's squeaking at the door wanting back in pretty quickly," McGrath said.
McGrath said she is planning not only a product line around Lilith — Hogwash, anyone? — but also a children's book and a puzzle from a local puzzle creator.
"Why not celebrate a little miracle? A good news story, for a change," she said.
She estimates Lilith will grow to be about 27 kilograms, or 60 pounds.
And she said she can't imagine what she'd do if someone came along to claim Lilith.
"She has grown quite attached to us, and us to her," McGrath said.
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