On August 7 2017 I lost my father to a heart attack at just 62 years of age and my world was changed forever. He was found by his customer he was installing a septic for but there was nothing that could be done as he had long since passed. The coroner said he died as the result of an enlarged heart and arteries that were greater than 75% occluded. On this fateful day, I was taking my then 14 month old daughter out for a walk when I received the most devastating news of my life. Fortunately I hadn’t gone too far and was still in front of my neighbors house. Once I was in their driveway I just collapsed and completely broke down - I couldn’t believe what I had just been told and my world literally came crashing down. I was a self proclaimed daddy’s girl and this was the worst day of my life. My father was healthy, as strong as an ox and indestructible in my eyes. Losing that one person you have looked up to your whole life and who you go to for all life’s hard decisions is incredibly difficult to process. I don’t remember much of the rest of August other then the overwhelming love and support we received from friends, family and the community of Gabriola Island.
When this occurred I had been volunteering at the R.A.S.T.A. Sanctuary since June but I had to go on hiatus for the month of August due to the recent tragedy in my personal life. In September, I started to pick up the fractured pieces of my new world and returned to volunteering at R.A.S.T.A. Lucie, the founder of R.A.S.T.A., had recently been contacted by an individual who was hoping to find a forever home for their 8 year old retired sow. Lucie knew that I had recently adopted three pot belly pigs so while we were out picking strawberries she asked if I would be willing to take this pig in because she was at capacity. I had to contain my outburst of laughter because taking in a large pig was totally insane to me at the time. Trying not to be rude I told her I would think about it but I was already dead set that this was an absolute NO. The largest pigs I had ever been around were Prince and Pirate at R.A.S.T.A and they weren’t even full grown yet! And these two guys were fixed, had been raised in an amazing environment, were used to frequent human interaction and I only had 3 months of pig experience under my belt! That night I couldn’t get this pig out of my mind but I was convinced I couldn’t take her because I was honestly scared of what taking in a nearly thousand pound pig would entail. How would I care for her? What would happen when she went into heat? Would she attack me? What would I do if she got sick? I also had one family member that was convinced she would eat me if given the opportunity, though she did try to breed with me once when she was in heat but that’s another story. After the passing of my father I had taken a serious look at my personal life. I wanted to take part in something that would make a positive impact in our community and do something that would make my daughter proud of her mother. My father always believed in me and consistently gave me his unconditional love and support - I knew that he would be proud of me taking on this challenge and at this point I was determined to do it even though I thought the idea was ludicrous only a few hours earlier. After I was no longer on the fence and had firmly planted my foot on the other side, I made arrangements to go and meet this thousand pound pig. Her name was Debbie and she led me on the path of opening A Home for Hooves Farm Sanctuary!