I stayed at an Airbnb with a pet pig and realized I liked dogs better

  • I rented a room in an Airbnb so I could meet people and spend time with the host's pet pig, Carbón.

  • While Carbón was cute, he often misbehaved and rammed me like a bull when hungry.

  • I'm not a dog person, but I realized I enjoyed spending time with the host's dog over the pig.

Last summer, after a month of living alone in Medellin, Colombia, I decided I wanted to try to make local friends and booked my second month there with a roommate.

I had been third-wheeling my best friend and her boyfriend, also expats, and I realized I needed pals who weren't madly in love. I was beginning to feel like a golden retriever, always waiting for them to play.

The host, Ihab, had a spare room in his penthouse. The listing promised a friendly pet as a bonus — a pig pal. While I'm not a dog person, the idea of having a pet of the swine variety seemed exciting.

I was familiar with pigs from pop culture, but this pig, Carbón, didn't resemble the ones from cartoons. He was adorable — when he wasn't wreaking havoc or trying to eat my toes.

Carbón was domesticated, but he was still a hog

Carbón wasn't as cuddly as I'd anticipated. His skin was rough and hairy, and he — like all pigs, as I found out — had tusks. In the wild, they use them for self-defense, but here, Carbón was typically the aggressor.

The Airbnb listing promised that Carbón would be kept upstairs, but Ihab let him roam free in the mornings.

The pig was cold upon my arrival. When we first met, he walked right past me, while Ihab's dog, Leila, a bulldog-lab mix, came toward me to be pet. I thought the pig looked like a descendant of a mammoth.

Ihab hadn't mentioned he had a dog. The two pets didn't play together, and poor Leila was ignored when people came over because Carbón was the house's star.

I didn't dislike dogs, but I didn't care for them after a childhood incident in which my family's dog jumped on my back. I hit my forehead against concrete and needed stitches.

In the mornings, watching Carbón slowly descend the stairs, hoof by hoof, was comical. His body jiggled, and his tail swung from side to side. He sniffed his way through the hallways and into the kitchen, making a noise somewhere between an oink and a growl.

A photo of a pig with black skin and fur walking up a marble staircase. The walls are white with two black and white prints hanging on them.
Carbón the pig.Courtesy of Jamie Valentino

If people didn't feed him, he would ram into them in frustration. This could happen if he wasn't fed on schedule or randomly if he was in the mood for a snack.

Carbón loved to eat, which could make him aggressive

While Carbón ate whatever was in front of him, whether edible or not, his diet mainly consisted of vegetables and compost. He'd devour a banana peel with pleasure.

Unfortunately, his insatiable hunger sometimes made him aggressive. I initially found his idiosyncrasies amusing, but then he started running at my feet like a bull. I told myself that I was being ridiculous to think a pig would bite my flesh.

Ihab assured me Carbón wasn't agile enough to reach anyone's toes. Just in case, I started wearing socks with my sandals.

When Carbón's misbehavior got out of control, Ihab would spray him with water. The pig would run away squirming.

Carbón won my heart when he impressed me with his tricks

But Carbón wasn't only trouble; he also knew several tricks.

"Vuelta," Ihab would shout, saying "turn" in Spanish.

Whenever he heard this, Carbón knew to spin around a couple of times and wait for a carrot. He also knew how to sit and jump — or at least mimic a jump — but Ihab told me not to hold my breath for fetch.

As I spent more time with the Air Bbnb host, I saw another side of Carbón. I'd watch them do horseplay and cuddle. Ihab would give him belly rubs in exchange for sloppy kisses.

I started paying attention to the other animal in the house

After a while, Carbón got on my nerves, and I started spending more time with Leila.

She didn't make me nervous when she sat at my feet while I worked, and I felt like I had actual company when she joined me on the couch for a horror movie.

Leila was the first dog I had been around since my childhood. While I don't plan on getting one, it eased my resentment from the incident.

Despite this one-of-a-kind pet experience, I preferred my time with man's more common best friend, who had no penchant for my toes.

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