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Little Mama's story

One morning about a week before Christmas I received a call from a woman in tears. She had 2 potbellied pigs which she could not keep. She had bought them from an ad she had seen in the paper. Apparently when she went to see the pigs, the conditions were so terrible that she felt she had to buy the pigs. They were in mud and were being chased and bitten by dogs. (both pigs still bear the scars from dog bites on their back legs) She had them for only four or five days when she realized she was not a "pig person". She got Janet Fine's number from the Sacramento SPCA. Janet in turn referred her to us, as we lived fairly close. She and her husband delivered the pigs along with a dogloo to our home. She told me that she had named them "Arnold" and "Mama". Mama had supposedly already had a litter of babies which froze to death outside, probably in the rain and mud.

We made a pen outside our bedroom window so we could monitor them. We separated the pen because Arnold was still a boar, and Mama was not spayed. They were in pens side by side and seemed happy. We decided to take Arnold down to the vet to be neutered. We suspected that Mama was probably pregnant because she did not seem to be coming into heat. When Arnold returned from the vet, we introduced him to some new friends in a larger pen. Mama stayed in the pen under our bedroom window. Mama was very shy and did not like to be touched. She was afraid of hands which led us to believe she had been hit at times. I began to spend more time with her, gently petting her and letting her know she could trust me. I prepared special treats for her and she started to come around. I was feeling real good about our developing relationship.

On the morning of February 27, I awoke to the awful sound of a pig screaming. I jumped out of bed and woke my husband, Lance. We have 12 pigs that sleep in the house and they were all up and in a panic. The dogs were growling but would not leave the house. We ran outside and at first we couldn't tell where the screams were coming from. It was still dark out and hard to see. All the other pigs were up and barking in panic and looking in the direction of Mama's pen. I yelled to my husband.....it's Mama, it's Mama. I assumed she was stuck in fencing or perhaps stuck in her house. Lance ran to her pen armed with a flashlight and a pair of scissors. He also assumed that she was stuck and he would need to cut the ties on the panels to free her. I will never forget his voice as he arrived at Mama's pen and screamed out,,,"OH MY GOD, IT'S A BEAR".......He was screaming at the bear and I joined in. The bear had climbed over the hog panels into the pen and was attacking Mama. As my husband watched and cryed out in horror, the bear lifted Mama in it's mouth by the scruff of her neck and climbed out of the pen. It ran down the hill towards the manzanita bushes with Mama in it's mouth. My husband chased the bear but when it turned around and faced Lance with Mama still screaming in it's mouth, he realized he had better return to the house and get a gun. I followed him, agonizing over Mama's screams which could still be heard. He grabbed the gun, ran back outside and fired shots into the air. At this point the screams stopped. I had stayed in the house with our 2 year old daughter , she was hysterical because she woke up and had heard the whole thing.

When Lance walked back into the house, I could tell by the look on his face that he was not able to save Mama. I said, "did he take her"? He just answered a quiet "yes". I remember being on my knees, sobbing and holding my daughter who kept repeating the same thing over and over. She said: " Don't make that sound, don't make that sound....... baby screaming."

Lance got dressed and armed with a rifle went out again to search the area. There was no sign of the bear or Mama. When the sun came up, he checked her pen and there was a small amount of blood. That was the only evidence that anything had happened..

We spent the morning in a state of grief and shock. We phoned our neighbors and some friends to tell what had happened. It was probably one of worst mornings of my life. Every minute was filled with thoughts of Mama and regret that we had failed her. We talked about it over and over, wondering how we could have saved her.

We live in a rural area with a lot of wildlife. We have had a little trouble with coyotes, and we know there are mountain lion in the area. The last thing in the world we expected to encounter however was a bear. We spoke to the game warden who said the attack was "extremely unusual". This did not console us. I couldn't get Mama's screams out of my head and I kept thinking about her unborn babies. It was unbearable.

When Lance had gone to work and our daughter was napping, I took the dogs and searched the bushes myself. Instinctively I called out to Mama knowing there wouldn't be a reply, but I couldn't help myself. Of course there was no sign of her.

The day wore on and I did all the usual chores. After the evening feeding of the pigs, I began to cautiously let the house pigs out to "do potty". I let the last pig out at about 5:30 pm. I stood out on the deck, gazing towards the parcel next door. It is an eleven acre parcel that has been vacant for about a year. Our pigs like to go there and graze and take advantage of the space. As I stood there, I noticed a small black pig-like animal wandering around. I thought to myself that I must really be losing it to have forgotten about one of my pigs. Who had I let out and not called back in? I thought I had been especially careful because of the bear attack so how could this have happened? I checked in the house and everyone was accounted for. The last pig I had let out was still wandering around on the deck, so I knew it was not her. I knew I had to go check it out so I filled a coffee can with pig chow and packed my daughter in the stroller. We headed down the driveway with 4 dogs and one pig in tow. About halfway down the driveway I spotted the small animal again and my heart started to pound. It was definately a pig. Could it be Mama? I told myself not to be a fool. There was no chance that Mama could be alive. As I approached the pig my heart sank. It wasn't Mama. This little pig was wearing a red harness. But as the pig came towards me, wagging it's tail, I realized it was not wearing a harness. It's flesh was badly torn and bloody...... It was Mama!!!! I called to her and she actually came running. I was so overwhelmed with joy and excitement that I barely knew what to do. But the other pig that had accompanied us down the driveway did. She grunted to Mama and led the way back up the driveway toward the house. Mama followed the other pig and I led them to the empty pen. I put Mama in and fed her some food. She was so hungry!!! I took that as a good sign.

I ran in the house and called our friends Bob and Patty Terrell. When Patty answered I could hardly get the words out! Mama's alive!!! She's hurt! Patty said Bob was on his way that instant. It took about 35 minutes for him to get here and during that time I sat with Mama and marveled at her. How could she be up and walking around for 12 hours with part of her neck and shoulders missing? How did she get away?

When Bob arrived he loaded her into a carrier and took her to Dr. Cyndie Hurst. I had called and told them what had happened.. When Bob got there with Mama and Dr. Hurst checked her over, she said Mama would need about 2 1/2 hours of surgery but she was too deep in shock to put her under anesthesia safely. Dr. Hurst injected her with antibiotics and steroids and planned the surgery for the next morning. She did say however that she probably could save Mama.

That night when Mama was safely at the vets, the bear returned. I was in our kitchen feeding my daughter when the dog outside started barking like crazy. He sat in front of the sliding glass door and looked right at me while he barked. I thought it was strange so I took a flashlight and went outside. Sure enough the bear was out there, right back at Mama's empty pen. I guess he was looking for the meal he lost. I made a lot of noise yelling and banging on things as I ran back in the house. I called our neighbor who came over firing rifle shots into the air. It must have really frightened the bear because it has not been back since, although we have spent many sleepless nights since, waiting for him.

Mama went through the surgery the next morning and she did real good. Her left shoulder was terribly shredded all the way to her spinal column. Dr. Hurst had to remove a very large portion of flesh from that area so it would be able to heal. The rest of the wound was sutured back together. Mama had to stay hospialized for a week. In the morning of March 6th Lance went and brought Mama home. It was an exciting morning to say the least! When Mama arrived home, I was surprised to see the large hole in her back. It was the size of a small dinner plate, and about 1 1/2 inches deep. She had lots of stitches. But Mama seemed oblivious to her injuries. She was so happy to be home and happy for all the treats and attention. She took up residence in our spare bedroom and made herself right at home. After looking at Mama for a while, I noticed she was getting a "milk line". She went down for a belly rub and I could see babies moving! I couldn't believe it at first because we had worried that after all the trauma, stress, and medication that she would lose the babies. But they were difinately alive! Since she was a rescue pig, we had no idea when she had been bred so we just had to wait and see when these little guys would decide to be born.

Two weeks exactly after Mama's near death experience, she went into labor. She tore up her room, charged us, and generally acted like a normal nesting , mother-to-be! Saturday morning March 14, Mama had nine babies. Six girls and three boys. They were very small and a greyish pink color. We called Dr. Hurst and told her that the babies didn't seem quite right. She said they were probably premature due to the steroid injections Mama recieved. Many of the babies did not open their eyes and it was hard to clean them up because the sacks were very sticky due to immaturity. One female died right away. Another died the next morning. The babies did not know how to nurse right away. Patti Terrell came over and spent the day with me, nursing each baby over and over until we were sure they had had colostrum.

For the next eight days I had to help those babies nurse around the clock. One more female died on the sixth day. Two of the boys did not open their eyes until the seventh day. During this first week , poor Mama seemed exhausted. She could barely haul her body around. We made daily phone calls to Dr. Hurst, as well as Janet and other pig friends. Dr. Hurst put Mama on Rimadyl which really seemed to help. By the ninth day I noticed how fat and chubby everyone was looking. I also noticed that they were nursing themselves and sleeping with Mama at night instead of under the heat lamp.

As I write this, it is day eleven. Last night those babies didn't need me at all! Everytime I went into check, they had already nursed and didn't want to be bothered. Mama is doing great. She is perky and bright, and seems to enjoy her babies. She is eating well and her wound is healing. She has become so friendly and loving. You wouldn't know this was the same shy, sad, little rescue pig who arrived around Christmas. This is a pig who survived a bear attack and gave birth, nursed and nutured six preemie babies while healing her own body as well. What a trooper!!!! What an amazing and inspiring animal. We love Little Mama and all her babies. We look forward to watching them all grow up together, safe and happy. _____________________________________________________________________________________

This is the story of the events experienced by Lance and Marie Lloyd and the very couragious" Little Mama". Marie has written this amazing story so I could share it with all you wonderful friends on Pig Pals. I hope in the near future these loving pig parents will be joining us on the list. I can't tell you how grateful Lance and Marie are for the contibutions to "The Little Mama Fund". Those of you that have helped will be hearing from them soon. Marie sent pictures of Mama and the babies. I will scan them as soon as I figure that part out. Janet

Go see the pictures of this brave piggy
WARNING!!! These are graphic!