King of the barnyard

All I wanted for Christmas when I was seven was a pot-bellied pig. My grandma surprised me with a tiny, spotted piglet. I named him Otis. Ten and a half years later, this once-tiny pig is now an astounding one hundred and thirty pounds and resides in the barnyard. 

Unlike the other farm critters, Otis prefers to live in his own yard right outside the main pasture on my family’s farm. He likes to let the other animals know how smart he is, and when he isn’t showing off, sleeping, eating, or looking for something to eat, Otis has an important job on the farm. When guests come for farm visits, he welcomes them—and even lets the kids paint his toenails. 

About two years ago, Otis’s health declined, his appetite decreased, and he dropped a lot of weight. We started to feed him sweeter, softer food, which encouraged him to eat and seemed to help for a while. But then, while I was out of town on a college visit, he took a turn for the worse. My concerned mom talked with our livestock veterinarian, who told her that old pigs sometimes just fade away, and that there wasn’t much he could do to help. 

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