Gertie was a scared and malnourished young pig when she arrived at the sanctuary. She was found wandering the streets of a nearby town and taken to the local animal shelter. The shelter tried to find her owner, but no one claimed her. We won her in a livestock auction.
When Gertie first came to the sanctuary, the other pigs immediately noticed how different she looked. “Who is that pink and skinny animal with the white tufts of hair? Is that a pig? Is she coming to live here with us?”
Gertie heard their talk and felt embarrassed. She knew she was different than the other pigs. She was much smaller in size, and her skin was light in color. You could see her bones from months of not eating properly. But she knew she was in the right place. She was tired of being scared and alone.
Gertie spent her days exploring the woods and taking in the wonders of nature. She loved to lie in sunny spots in the leaves and relax on her back with her soft pink belly sticking up in the air. The squirrels and birds were attracted to Gertie’s peaceful nature, and they often came to sit with her while she sunbathed.
Over the weeks, Gertie blossomed in weight and gained strength. Her tufts of hair slowly turned into a beautiful shiny white coat, and her sad eyes became bright with wonder. Soon, her differences became her greatest treasures. One of those treasures was her voice. She sang like an angel!
One day, Daisy asked, “Little Gertie, I've never seen a pig like you. You don’t look like us. You don’t sound like us. Are you really a pig?” Daisy was jealous of Gertie and didn’t like her to get so much attention.
Gertie responded, “Yes, Daisy, I really am a pig, and I know that I’m different. But we’re all different in some way, and that’s what makes us unique. Look at you with those spots. None of the other pigs have spots. But your spots are beautiful, and they make you special.”
Daisy always thought her spots were ugly, and she often rolled around in the mud to cover them up. Now, she looked at her spots and wondered. She also looked at the other pigs. She noticed Mandy's short stumpy legs, Stella's fat cheeks, and Lucy's tall ears that stood straight up when she got excited.
Gertie continued, “Daisy, keep looking around you. All our differences make us who we are. Can you imagine if all of us looked exactly the same? And if we all talked and walked the same? Can you imagine how boring life would be?”
Later that evening, the pigs gathered around Gertie as she sang them to sleep. Daisy thought about how Gertie’s voice sounded like a symphony of angels. She carefully picked the mud off her spots, gently covered them in warm straw, and drifted off to sleep.
Pedro and Petunia came to the sanctuary from a mean farm. Their pen was small and dirty. They didn’t have clean water, healthy meals, or fresh straw for sleeping at night. They didn’t even have shade in the hot summer. Can you imagine how miserable they must have been?
When our dear friend Bridget heard about Pedro and Petunia’s sad situation, she drove straight to the farm and begged the owner to let her take the pigs to a better home. “We just can’t let Pedro and Petunia live in filth. They need good food, clean water, and a space to roam and explore with friends. Please let me take them!”
After much convincing, the farmer finally agreed to let Pedro and Petunia go, and now they are here at our sanctuary. You can recognize Pedro by his cute white feet and Petunia by the little pink heart on her nose. Every night, these lovebirds snuggle together and sleep away the night. They are so adorable!
Here at the sanctuary, we believe that good comes from every bad situation, and Pedro and Petunia are living proof. Here’s a little story to illustrate our point.
It was Christmas Eve, and Pedro and Petunia were relaxing in the barn, as they usually do when the sun goes down. The radio was playing Joy to the World, and the pigs were all tapping their hooves singing along.
Suddenly, Pedro stood up on his short legs and asked Petunia, “What do we know about Joy? I suppose we’ll never know since we have so many awful memories of our past. Those days took away our Joy.”
Petunia smacked her lips and twitched the little heart on her nose while she thought about her answer. Then she replied, “Joy is all around us, Pedro. And it’s also within us. It’s about letting go of our past and forgiving the farmer who was so mean to us. It’s about feeling grateful for what we have. It’s about sharing with others. That’s what Joy means to me.”
The other pigs overheard Petunia and started to gather around her. Stella made her way through the pigs so she could stand directly in front of Petunia while she continued her speech.
Petunia paced a little while she spoke. “We all have stories from our past. But look at us now! We are living in paradise. We have everything we’ve ever wanted - food, love, warmth, friendship - we have it all! And we're living at our forever home, so we don’t ever have to worry about anything EVER again. We are so blessed. My friends, look around you and feel the love. THIS IS JOY."
The pigs and Lester the rooster all smiled, because they knew Petunia was right. And they also knew why she was born with that little pink heart on her nose.
Lester found his way to the sanctuary when he was just a young cockerel, more commonly known as a rooster. He was a handsome boy, but he was also very arrogant. He thought he was better than the pigs, and he often taunted them from his perch in the barn, which he referred to as his throne.
“You filthy pigs spend all day wallowing in the mud. Your snouts are big and ugly. Your tails curl up like snakes. All you do is walk around snorting and telling silly stories. You can’t even fly!”
He twirled his feathery head around to show off his bright red comb and muttered to himself, “So unappealing to a beautiful creature like myself.”
The pigs tolerated Lester and his arrogant behavior. Sometimes they made fun of him behind his back, and other times they just felt sorry for him. But their lives were too full of fun adventures to worry about a mean chicken.
One night, Lester was roosting on his usual perch overlooking the pigs, when he heard Miss Stella crying softly to herself. Suddenly, he was overwhelmed with a feeling of compassion. He knew the other pigs often picked on her. He also remembered the farm where he used to live and how the chickens picked on him and made him cry.
Lester flew down into Stella’s stall. Her snout was glistening in the moonlight from her tears, and the straw around her was wet, too.
“Stella, why do you let the pigs pick on you? Why don’t you stand up for yourself?”
Stella looked at Lester with a very confused look on her face. She had never heard him speak kindly before.
Stella replied, “Why do you care, Lester? You only care about yourself. You don’t care about me.”
Lester stood and reflected for a minute. He thought about what it really means to care about someone. He also thought about his own behavior. He wondered if anyone had ever cared about him in his whole life.
Lester moved his wrinkled little foot and placed it on Stella’s hoof. “I care about you, Stella. I don’t really know why, but I think I do care about you.”
Stella stopped crying and turned her focus to Lester. She wanted to know more about him. Where did he come from? Why did he act so arrogant and proud?
Lester spent the rest of the night lying next to Stella, keeping her company and telling stories about his past. He told her about the mean farm where he used to live and how he was treated. He told her about his deep sadness.
Stella listened to every word Lester spoke that night. In fact, she listened so much that she completely forgot about her own problems.
That night, Stella and Lester formed a bond that would never break. They made a pact to protect and love each other for the rest of their lives.
The next morning, before the other pigs woke up, Stella smiled at Lester, and thanked him for his kindness. “I learned something very important last night, Lester. Caring for others is the secret to being happy. If we care for others, then we have a mission in life, and our own problems won't be important anymore.”
Lester twirled his bright comb in the usual way, but this time, he twirled it out of happiness, because he had just learned the most important lesson in his life. He proudly flew up on Stella’s back and proclaimed his new throne.
Stella arrived at the sanctuary in the heat of summer when the other pigs were in the best of moods. The sun was shining, the leaves were rustling in the breeze, and the mud puddles were full of water. Love and freedom was in the air.
But the air around Stella was different. She had never been around other pigs, and she was scared. The eyes that gazed at her through the fence were monster eyes. The grunts of curiosity were angry growls. The sun only brightened her fears.
Stella was confused. "Where am I? Who are those monsters, and why do they keep staring at me? Go away! Leave me alone!" She cowered behind trees and hid in her stall when the sun went down.
In the evenings, Stella’s human caretaker Anna came to check on her and scratch her little ears. Anna assured Stella, “Everything will be OK, sweetheart. Those monsters are really just pigs like you. Their eyes are simply looking at you out of curiosity, and their grunts are just their way of saying hello. How can I make you see that?”
Anna continued comforting Stella in the evenings. “Miss Stella, I want you to feel safe here. I want you to be happy.” But she knew that deep down, Stella was lonely and didn’t trust the other pigs.
The weeks passed, and the summer turned into autumn. Stella started feeling a little more comfortable with her surroundings. She loved rooting around in the woods and wading in the stream of water that winded through the forest. The days were cooler, and the colorful leaves were dancing off the trees. She felt the warmth of the sun on her back, and she smiled.
One day, a little girl named Charlotte came to visit. “I brought pumpkins to share with the pigs!” At first, Stella became very excited and ran to get her treat. But then she suddenly stopped and cautiously moved behind a tree. She had no courage to face the other pigs.
Charlotte was a deeply sensitive child and recognized Stella’s struggle. She decided to give Stella her very own pumpkin. As Stella was eating, Charlotte asked, “Stella, why do you shy away from your herd? Why do you insist on being alone?”
Stella replied, “The pigs don’t like me, and they just don’t want me around. They pick on me. They bully me. They hate me.”
Charlotte was sad to hear these words. “No, Stella, they don’t hate you. They just need to get to know you. Then they’ll see how wonderful you are. But you need to take the first step. You need to put forth the effort.”
The days passed, and Stella thought carefully about Charlotte’s words of wisdom. And then it finally clicked. She thought, “I’ve been waiting all this time for the herd to accept me – for them to like me and invite me to their frolicking. But I need to accept them, too. I need to show them that they can trust me and that I can be their friend.”
And then Stella decided to do something that would change her life forever. She opened her heart, gained her strength, and made the first move. "I want to make friends with my herd. I want to be loved and love them back." And that’s exactly what she did – one pig at a time.