Relationship with pig doesn’t amuse daughter |

Relationship with pig doesn’t amuse daughter

Paul Dunn

A recent Associated Press story about an obese potbellied pig has my daughter a bit chagrined.

Seems Winona, Minn., resident Michelle Schmitz, 22, wanted abuse charges filed against an acquaintance who pet-sat for her aforementioned pig and allowed the animal to get fat.

The woman claimed her 5-year-old pig – named Alaina Templeton – weighed 50 pounds when she left it with a co-worker, who cared for the animal when Schmitz went on medical leave to recover from ankle surgeries.

Nine months later, the Twiggy of pigs had ballooned to 150 pounds but still wore the collar it had when it was svelte. According to the Winona Daily News, veterinarians struggled for 41Ú2 hours to surgically remove the collar, which had made it difficult for the pig to breathe.

The pet apparently had been foraging for cat food and chicken feed outdoors at the co-worker’s farm.

Schmitz said she cried for three days after discovering Alaina’s weight problem.

The latest updates indicated that in its first week back with Schmitz in early November, Alaina already had dropped 15 pounds on a strict diet of pig health food. The animal had been wearing a bandage and healing from a pressure wound and neck infection.

The accused pig fattener, Mary Beesecker, 52, of Houston, Minn., has been charged with misdemeanor animal cruelty, said Winona County Sheriff David Brand.

“That pig is my life,” said Schmitz, who has a tattoo of Alaina’s name (though the AP doesn’t indicate exactly where).

The whole slightly creepy affair brings to mind the Stephen King book-based movie “Misery,” in which sadistic nutcase Kathy Bates cavorts with her pig Misery, while her prisoner – critically injured writer James Caan – writhes in pain.

That’s not to say Schmitz is cracked, mind you, but slightly overzealous, perhaps? (Then again, who among us never has kissed a pig with a surname?)

I would have been as angry as she was in similar circumstances, though I might have checked out my co-worker’s pet-sitting credentials more stringently than Schmitz apparently did.

To show my empathy, however, I’m considering having “Alaina” tattooed on a not-yet-determined part of my body.

But for slightly different reasons.

My wife, Barbara, and I chose our daughter’s name from a novel Barbara was reading during her pregnancy in 1980. In the years since, I’ve not once read the name in any other written text.

I’ve seen “Eleana,” “Aleana,” “Eleena” and just about every other variation, but not until I read about an obese pig did I ever see the name “Alaina.”

When I called my daughter, who lives in Redlands, and recounted the pig story, her first words were: “Uh-uh!”

Her next words were: “I’m NOT particularly flattered.”

You’re way ahead of me, I’m sure: My daughter’s name is Alaina Catherine Dunn.

She’s visiting me over Christmas. I’ll have to oink a few times while she’s here.

– Paul Dunn is editor of the Tahoe Daily Tribune. He can be reached at (530) 542-8047 and

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