The Good Good Pig, Sy Montgomery


„We tend to think that animals are lower than us, but it is because we don’t know them”.

Have you ever read a biography of a pig? A resume, in which instead of a boring list of finished schools we have a story of porky spa and the description of the favorite beaker? The story about the best and the worst moments, about the escapes from homestead and photos for Christmas cards? If not, then you would be really surprised by the amount of pure happiness that can be brought by one tiny, inconspicuous piggy with hairy ears.

Christopher Hogwood comes back home which belongs to Sy Montgomery. On its knees, in a shoe box. He was born under a lucky star. He became the chosen one; the only one of the siblings who escaped death. It happened on the rain-drenched April evening when the roads are slippery from thawing snow, and the air is filled with the dullness to the point when one can barely see the tip of one’s own nose. That is exactly when the two-month-old Christopher Hogwood – a skinny, little creature that had no right to survive in the next couple of hours – has started a new life.

„Heaven,” wrote Thoreau, „is under our feet”. Heaven, Eden, paradise, the Encante – call it what you will. It is as close as a backyard or a barnyard, and as extensive as the Amazon. Granted, in the Amazon, one might need a dolphin as a guide. But in Hancock, all you needed to point you to Eden was a good pig”.

The life of Sy and her husband definitely became more “pigocentric”. The love for a little pig was connected with many visits in a pigsty and new ideas concerning more and more fanciful snacks. With time, the food from the whole town started to appear in the homestead. The unnecessary dough from the neighbours’ kitchens, peelings provided by the vet, stale bread, and muffins from the restaurant found their comfortable place in the stomach of a little pig that grew by leaps and bounds, all due to the kindness of strangers. The chief of the police kept a crate with apples in his car in case curious Chris should be brought back home. Apparently, Chris is a globetrotter who loves wandering around, even further than the frontier of the backyard. Only after some time did Sy realize how many changes was going on in her life and all because of the presence of the small piggy. Definitely, those changes were being made for the better. Chris’s little adventures allowed Sy to meet many wonderful people. Before that, those encounters were a huge challenge to her, as she tried to steer clear of people. Because of the walks to the green plateau, where Chris loved lying in the sun, she made friends with the neighbour, whose children turned out to be wonderful and most helpful companions.

The impact of Chris was not limited to Hancock only, but its influence was constantly expanding. For children, it embodied Winnie the Pooh and the Piglet, the most lovable characters from their favorite tales. Thanks to the cheerful disposition, it became a huge star, both in television and radio stations. And yet, Chris was mainly the remedy: for pain, longing and death. The door of the homestead resembled the door of a friend’s home. It was as if a place, where you can enter whenever you need, no matter if it’s day or night. It was a place where you could weep, where you could just sit and spend some time, where you could laugh with the company of a jolly oinking of the pig.

„And now, with spring soon to flower, I was grateful. Soon there would be tulips, and then lilacs and then strawberries. Feeling loved and lucky, I stood on the tender lip of spring, open to the healing summer”.

“How long do pigs live?” – wondered Montgomery, stroking Christopher Hogwood’s warm belly. This question wasn’t immediately answered, there were only suppositions along with wild guesses. The industrial inbreeding do not give animals any chance for surviving, let alone a worthy life. The sows are slaughtered with cold blood when they can no longer bear any babies. Meanwhile, Christopher Hogwood astonished everybody with his impressive age of 14. At the same time the author – a naturalist and traveler, who was bitten by a vampire bat and was almost devoured by a tiger – explored the distant wilderness and remote villages. But she always missed home, her husband Howard, her own brood of chickens, her dog Tess, whom she decided to keep. And she missed Chris Hogwood, the most extraordinary pig in the world.


phot. Sy Montgomery

Author: Katarzyna Anita Piotrowska
Translation: Dorota Osińska