Last Tuesday was a crazy day which ended with me having two bruised knees and feeling like I ran a marathon. This day was to include having Elvis and Presley neutered along with bringing home a pot belly pig that was showing signs of aggression. The night before the big day I put Elvis and Presley in separate carriers so I didn’t have to worry about chasing roosters around at 5am. Chickens are quite sleepy in the evening so it’s easiest to catch them during this time. The first rooster I caught was Presley and it’s fascinating to hear the sound they make when they think they are being attacked as it’s a very specific sound used to raise the predator alarm. Now travelling with roosters early in the morning is quite an experience because my volunteer Sarah and I got to enjoy 2 hours of crowing in a confined space. As soon as we arrived we took Elvis and Presley straight to our Veterinarian who was performing the surgeries out of the Courtney Veterinary Clinic as it required gas anaesthetic. After we left them in our Veterinarian’s care we had a few hours before we would meet the new pot belly pig so we decided to go have something to eat. We had breakfast at “Rawthentic” which makes really good raw vegan food. After that we spent some time at the Marina and I must say that Courtney is a very pretty town with all the water and mountain views!
Now for the not so fun part as I knew crating this new pot belly was not going to be a walk in the park. This pig , known as Charlie, had suffered through years of abuse and later found himself with someone who had the best of intentions to provide him with a forever home but it didn’t work out that way. The problem was that Charlie had a very solid foundation of why he should fear humans which manifested into aggression that proved to be too much for his new caregivers. Even though they did try everything they could to correct his behaviour, his fear shown through aggression, proved to be too much for them. Now I had been dreading this day because ONE he was afraid of people and TWO he was not fond of confined spaces as he had been sleeping outside even though he had access to two shelters. For our first attempt we put the crate at the opening of his pen and I was hoping we would be REALLY REALLY lucky and he would walk right in if we threw some treats into the back. But who am I kidding, pigs are smart and he knew something was afoot. After about 10 minutes of patiently waiting for him to walk into the crate, with the bribery of blackberries and apples and no success, we had to move to plan B. Now going back to the pigs are smart thing, you really have one good shot to get them into a crate and if you blow it it’s going to be a hundred times more difficult. So for our second attempt, which was a three person job, Sarah and his caregiver had to hold the crate in place and not allow him to escape as I stood in the pen with Charlie. As soon as Charlie’s front legs were in the crate I attempted to push him in but he quickly turned his body to prevent me from doing so. I’m not sure how much time passed with me keeping him between the sorting board and the crate but it felt like an eternity. This was now a battle of strength and I was determined to win because I simply had to. I had made several attempts to push Charlie into the crate, while bracing the sorting board with my knees, with no success. When I was about to give up and every ounce of strength was almost gone Charlie tried to turn and I took that opportunity to grab him by his back end and push him in. I still don’t know how I managed to do it because I literally had no strength left but adrenaline is a wonderful thing and it gave me the extra umph I needed.
Once he was in, we needed to get him into the van and fast. With pigs being a prey animal they will look for any kind of exit in an attempt to escape so Charlie was trying his darndest to open the crate door. We quickly loaded him in the van and much to our surprise he managed to shove his very powerful nose through the side of the crate which in turn blew the two plastic handles off the side - luckily we were standing right there so we were able to fix it before he made his escape. Hence why a crate with the top and bottom bolted with screws is a must with pigs and I’m currently on the hunt for. After this attempt we then closed the back of the van and made it appear that all the exits Charlie could exploit were no longer available so he quickly settled down and laid down in his hay for the journey home.
During the time we were getting ready to take Charlie home we received a call from our Veterinarian that the rooster surgeries were more difficult than originally anticipated. We made the decision to only complete Elvis’s surgery and wait the two months before we would know for sure that it was successful and he stopped producing testosterone. I’ll spare you the details but rooster neuters or “neusters” as we like to call it (a term created by our veterinarian) is far more difficult when they are over 12 weeks old because a roosters testicles are internal. Also due to the invasiveness of Elvis’s surgery he needed to be on oral painkillers and antibiotics and if you’d told me two years ago that I would be giving medication orally to a rooster I would have told you you were nuts!