by Doreen Stapelberg
You’ve all no doubt heard of clicker training?
Well, some dog training colleagues and I have been clicker training the most delightful, fast learning little creature imaginable – a 3 month old Vietnamese pot-bellied piglet!
We are teaching him, not only things which will make his life more fun, like pushing balls around, flipping objects like a rubber ring on to his snout, and “fetch”, but behaviours which will actually make life easier, and less stressful, now, and in years to come. For instance, being able to walk up a ramp, into a vehicle, calmly, can only be of benefit, both to him, and his owners; and learning not to bite when he gets excited over food, will probably save many an enthusiastic visitor from a badly mutilated finger, or two!
Recently, I volunteered for the unenviable job of taking the stitches out of his nether region after his castration. Crouched on the floor behind him; a quick clip of the 2 stitches — easy. But then, when a little pull should have slid them effortlessly out of the skin, the first tug yielded nothing but an enraged squeal from piggy, followed by a belligerent stare! Milk and dog food were brought in a bowl to appease him, and take his mind off proceedings, and, as he snuffled greedily into this manna from heaven, I very firmly grabbed a piece of stitch, and pulled – hard! Another piercing shriek from poor Oscar — and no wonder, for what emerged from his bum was a cronkely piece of stuff which looked more like string than the stiff gut which is normally used to stitch wounds with. It was soft, and full of gunge, and the hole it left was bleeding. One down, one to go.
But pigs are wise, and cleverer than cats – there was no way this little piggy was going to let me get behind him again! There was only one thing to do – pick him up, and hold him! Fortunately, his innate lusting after food, glorious food, could be played as a trump card, and a few chunks of snout whifflingly delicious cheese soon brought him grunting amicably to our feet. An eagle-like swoop by his owner, and he was hoisted ignominiously into the air. “Squealing like a stuck pig” really has no meaning until it has been experienced first hand! Anyone within a miles’ radius would have been excused for being certain that a particularly gruesome and slow murder by torture was taking place, that day! Before Adam’s eardrum, which was closest to piggy’s mouth, and vocals; exploded, I was able to extract the second stitch; every bit as mucky as the first. What material had been used, I don’t know; I’ve never seen anything like it before.
With some persuasion, in the shape of a huge chunk of choice cheddar, I managed to lure the now visibly disgruntled porker to me, to have some much needed TTouch! Four zigzags across his hard, bristly flanks, and he was stretched out, eyes blissfully closed, grunting softly. At least I had spared him the trauma of a return visit to the vet’s rooms, and who knows, maybe the vet will be able to hear more in the ensuing years than he otherwise would have, had he tackled the job of unstitching a pig in the confines of a small surgery!
Doreen is a TTouch Practitioner living in Pietermaritzburg. She available for TTouch consultations, one-on-one training for you and your dog, TTouch workshops for dogs and cats and demonstrations to groups and clubs. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org or 0845113553084511355308451135530845113553