Smiles followed Willie the potbelly pig as he waddled past residents’ rooms and into the common area where several residents awaited his arrival Thursday at Parkside Homes.
In theme with the holiday spirit, Willie’s owner, Melanie Scott, dressed him up as a leprechaun. Willie has visited the residents before dressed as Santa Claus and a biker hog.
“I dress him up more than any of our other animals,” Scott said. “He isn’t a huge fan, but he tolerates anything when you give him food.”
Scott brought a bag of dog treats for residents to feed Willie. He knows several tricks like sit, stay, and spin, which he performs for treats. Willie, however, was leery of the residents’ wheelchairs.
“He is even house-broken,” Scott said. “Pigs are easier to train than dogs, we’re a bit rusty on our tricks because he gets so many treats,” Scott told residents.
Willie is one of three potbelly pigs Scott owns. He is the largest weighing 244 lbs.
“When he was born his mom rejected the litter so my neighbor asked if I would raise them,” she said. “I raised five of the seven.”
All three pigs are part-time residents in Scott’s home. The rest of the time they are outside eating hay.
“They’re pigs, they like to get muddy, so dressing them up is a chore because you have to get them clean and keep them clean,” Scott said.
She said her least favorite part is painting Willie’s toenails, but she thinks the bath is his least favorite part.
“It took four coats of nail polish and almost a full bottle to paint his toes,” she said. “He hates it when people handle his front right foot. He has a birth defect that when he gets too riled up he falls over, so I take advantage of that and get the foot he doesn’t like messed with.”
Scott gets pieces for his costumes at a store, usually when they’re marked down after the holiday, and modifies them to fit Willie.
“I had to fix the glasses yesterday because he kept shaking them off and eventually broke them,” she said.
Pigs are not the only animals Scott brings to the home. Last month for National Chicken Day she brought a couple of chickens, she’s also brought lambs in the spring, a macaw, and her dog.
“I’ve been bringing animals to share with the residents since 1996,” she said. “Glen Ratzlaff knew I had a lot of animals and asked me to bring them in every once in awhile. I try to bring one every few months.”
Residents gave Willie’s costume rave reviews. One resident said he reminded her of her youth because her family used to raise pigs.
Cook Colleen Lynch took a break from the kitchen to say hi to Willie.
“I can’t believe a pig could be so cute,” she said. “It’s good for the residents to have him to see and interact with. They like it when animals come in.”
Willie continued his holiday outing at Trick-or-Treat Main Street Thursday night.
“Willie really likes kids, because usually they mean food,” Scott said.