From 4H Pig Project to Farm Sanctuary Star: Sophie Pig’s Charmed Life #AnimalRescue #Pig

Once upon a time in 2008 Sophie was being raised by a student participating in 4H.  As instructed, the student cared for Sophie for several months, preparing to take her to the local county fair.  There, Sophie would have been paraded, judged, bid upon, and sold to the highest bidder, who likely would have had her sent to slaughter. That is sadly the fate of thousands of animals annually — doted upon by a child they trust only to then be betrayed by that child.


 

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Sophie’s ears were notched by the 4H student as part of the curriculum

The student who raised Sophie thankfully realized before it was too late that she wanted Sophie to
live, not die. Sophie had become the student’s friend and teacher. From Sophie, this student learned that all animals matter for their own sake and deserve to live for themselves. And, that is how Sophie came to live at the Southern California shelter.

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Queen of the hill

Sophie is now the queen of the Southern California pig herd. Her
days are filled living life on her terms — mostly, that is. If Sophie had her
way, like most pigs she would eat all day long. Since we love Sophie and want
her to live the longest and fullest life possible, we do not allow her to eat
to her heart’s content as it would be her body’s despair. Instead, Sophie eats
a balanced diet supplemented with healthy treats of fresh fruit and
vegetables.

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Excuse me, but do you have any treats?

However loving our intent, Sophie does not appreciate her diet
and reminds us well before every mealtime that she needs to be fed. Her
impatient grunts can be heard throughout the shelter every morning and evening.
Should her meal be even a minute later than she deems acceptable she riles up
the troops, leading all of the pigs to grunt loudly and parade around in
protest. Despite her frustration, we cannot help but be amused because we know
that Sophie is receiving more than enough food and has never once missed a
meal.

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Not so innocent: Sophie on the prowl.

In fact, Sophie is a wily, scrounge artist. Once she has eaten
every morsel of her meal, she journeys for the scraps of others. Windy days are
her favorite because some of the horses’ hay will often whisk out of their
feeders and through the fencing into the pigs’ yard. A few pieces of hay could
easily travel through the yard without any pig noticing, but, not with Sophie
on the case. She is ever on the alert for wayward hay, keeping vigil at the
horses’ enclosure while they’re eating. The payoff for her endeavor seems
small. To her, though, every piece of hay consumed is a victory savored.

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Yay for hay!

Alas, when Sophie is not obsessing over her next meal or
plotting for treats, she loves to spend time with her best pig pals, Jimmy and
Jumper. Often their time spent together is enjoyed napping. Jimmy and Sophie
came to the sanctuary together and have grown up with one another, so the two
are especially close. They frequently can be seen snuggling up close to one
another, especially during the winter months. These friends have spent many an
hour snuggled up tight with one another.

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Jumper and Sophie enjoy a nap.

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Original snuggle buddies Jimmy and Sophie.

When not sleeping, Sophie can be found enjoying the pond. Sophie
relishes in enjoying a good dip in the water on a hot day. Sometimes all of
Sophie’s interests collide — some days she naps in the pond, some days she
shares the pond with friends, and some days she finds a treat in the pond,
which, of course, are her favorite days!

Sophie’s most notable attribute is her amazing tongue. All pigs’ tongues are extraordinary, but
Sophie’s is truly unique. Her mouth is always open at least a little so her tongue carries the characteristic distinction of always hanging out of her mouth. This physical happenstance is hard to ignore. Because her tongue is always hanging out of her mouth, the tip of Sophie’s tongue is always covered in dirt. The fact that she lives in a mountainous desert is well-reflected by her tongue’s filth. Since rooting in the mud is how pigs forage and eat in the wild, Sophie’s dirt covered tongue does not faze or negatively affect her. It simply exists — seemingly to fill our hearts with more joy and love.

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Sophie’s tongue is nearly as famous as that of Kiss’ Gene Simmons.

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And sometimes Sophie sports a muddy beard…

One benefit of the recent evacuation of the Southern California
shelter due to a wildfire is that Sophie’s tongue for the first time was
pristine. Without any dirt around, her bright and shiny tongue hung out of her
mouth while she, per usual, begged for treats.

Sophie’s endearment to us and visitors goes well beyond her physical attributes. Sophie shines most as an ambassador for all pigs with visitors. During tours and events, Sophie prances about displaying her beauty
for all to enjoy and falls down for belly rubs without hardly any prompting. Sophie never declines a belly rub. Whether amidst a deep slumber or wide awake, Sophie happily accepts guests rubbing her belly. She leans back and gently guides her admirers to the best spots to pet.

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Enjoying a belly rub at Farm Sanctuary’s Southern California Pignic.

Sophie’s love for life is clear to all who know and meet her. We know that all animals love their lives for their sake and are grateful that Sophie is able to teach people how wonderful pigs are.

Farm Sanctuary’s Kelly O’Neil and Sophie as captured by photojournalist Jo-Anne McArthur.

Sophie is among the lucky ones, and we hope you’ll share her story. She is truly someone, not something. With your support we can continue to promote compassionate vegan living through rescue,education, and advocacy efforts. A compassionate world begins with you!

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