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Buttercup

posted February 28th, 2015 by
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Buttercup

Buttercup

 

By Lauren Cavagnolo

 

With her painted pink toenails, an assortment of tutus and an attitude to match, Miss Piggy doesn’t have anything on Buttercup, the resident mini pig at Horizon Animal Hospital in Bixby.

“She is quite a character,” says Cari McDonald, DVM. “Nobody really owns her; she is her own pig.”Buttercup lives at the hospital along with eight cats and one dog who travels back and forth between home and work with Dr. McDonald.

 

“Amazingly, yes, they all get along,” McDonald says of her little menagerie.

McDonald says she has always liked pigs and had wanted one for a while. When she moved out of Tulsa to Bixby almost two years ago, she was finally able to get one.

McDonald got Buttercup when she was 8 weeks old, and she has been living at the clinic for just over a year. At first there was some concern about how clients and patients would react to Buttercup, but McDonald quickly realized it was not going to be a problem at all.

If Buttercup is in the waiting room, she is quick to greet anyone who comes in the clinic, human or otherwise. “There are people that she likes; she knows when they come in. She goes over to say hi to them and greets them,” McDonald says.

“We had been really worried about how people would perceive having a pig in the clinic, but it’s become funny to everyone,” McDonald says. “Enough that they come to see the pig now. If we have her put up for some reason, everyone is like, ‘Where’s the pig? We gotta see the pig. Where’s Buttercup?’”

In fact, Buttercup has made enough of a name for herself around town that she has her own Facebook page, Buttercup the Pig, with more than 300 fans. And Dr. McDonald is now commonly referred to as “the vet with the pig.”

“She’s become a little bit of a celebrity,” McDonald says. She has even been asked to make public appearances at community events.

At Tulsa Relay for Life, Buttercup was asked to kiss the person who raised the most money.

“She got kissed by a doctor. She wasn’t real cooperative,” McDonald recalls, laughing.

There were also many kids at Tulsa Relay for Life who enjoyed having their photos taken with Buttercup.

“That was the highlight; they thought   it was the best thing ever, and they     were just really enamored with her,” McDonald says.

Buttercup also made an appearance at the annual Green Corn Festival in Bixby.

“She was a big hit there,” McDonald says. “Everyone wanted to see her and pet her and say hi.”

Taking care of a mini pig

Having and caring for a mini pig is incomparable to having any other pet, says McDonald.

Buttercup weighs almost 50 pounds, which should be close to full grown for a mini pig. But this large animal won’t get a walk on a leash or be put out in the yard when it’s time to do her business. Instead, like her feline companions, Buttercup is litterbox trained.

Much like her canine friends, she loves her squeaky toy and a good belly rub. Though there are probably some picky dogs that would turn their noses up at some of Buttercup’s favorite foods.

“Her favorite treat is apples,” McDonald says. “She loves sweet potatoes, lettuce and carrots. We have only found a few things she won’t eat. She won’t eat celery.”

In the right mood, she can even be convinced to perform tricks for some of her favorite foods.

Mini pigs also need to have baths regularly, and “she’s not the easiest one to bathe,” McDonald says.

Someone who is considering keeping a mini pig as a pet should consider having the animal spayed or neutered, something McDonald highly recommends.

“She was having some behavioral issues before we spayed her,” McDonald says “After that, it improved drastically. It’s more of a health issue with indoor pigs since she’s not around any other pigs.

“There is nothing else like her. She does not fit into any category. She’s not what I would consider an easy pet to take care of. I can’t imagine if we didn’t have her here at the clinic or how someone would take care of her in a house setting. I don’t want to discourage people, but… you would have to be in the country.”

In fact, unless you are in an area zoned for agriculture, it would be illegal to own any farm animal—even miniature and dwarf varieties.

Miss Personality

McDonald says all of those clichés about pigs are clichés for a reason. “Eating like a pig? They do. Pig-headed? They are. All of those things really apply,” she says.

“She is very opinionated, very stubborn, but she is super smart,” McDonald says.

“Everyone is always surprised at how smart she is. We can’t keep any trashcans down on the floor because she is smart enough to figure out how to tip over any trashcan and get to it.”

To keep her stimulated, McDonald   has created puzzles for Buttercup, hiding treats in boxes and wrapping them with duct tape—something Buttercup has figured out how to get undone in about 30 seconds.

Much like a toddler, if she gets too quiet, she’s in trouble.

“If it gets silent, she is into something she shouldn’t be,” McDonald says. “She thinks she is being sneaky.”

McDonald and her staff all agree that Buttercup’s biggest goal is to get into the kennel to get to the dog food. “It’s her biggest thing of the day; that’s her challenge,” McDonald says.

There are two doors in the clinic, and Buttercup is always paying attention.

“She’ll listen, and if she happens to hear it not click and not lock, you’ll see her; she’ll sneak around the corner,” McDonald says. “But then she’ll get excited because she knows that door is open, and she’ll start grunting and oinking to get to that door. You’ll shut that door and she huffs.”

Buttercup has also been known to harass the dogs staying in the kennels at the clinic, according to some of the staff.

“She’ll walk in front of them really slow because she knows they can’t get out,” said Abrianna Jackson, kennel assistant at Horizon Animal Hospital. “She’ll tease them.”

She also may be a little confused about what species she actually belongs to.

“She’s afraid of my pig. The same way other dogs are afraid of her,” says Jackson, who once had to bring her own show pig, Winston, to the clinic.

“He was chasing her around trying to be friendly with her, and she was like, “Don’t touch me; get away from me!” laughs McDonald.

“She would squeal if he took a step even near her,” adds Jackson.

“It literally was like ‘He’s touching me!’ It was so funny,” McDonald says. “She’s fine with dogs and cats, but with the other pig, she was not happy.”

Sounds like Buttercup is still in search of her own Kermit.