Whether you have a cat that ignores you, a dog that chews up your slippers, a bird that sings in the middle of the night, or a hamster that keeps breaking its wheel, taking in a pet isn’t always a breeze. In fact, it can be really, really tough. So why are people so drawn to taking in other animals?
When these animal lovers adopted a new friend, they had certain expectations for how she would behave around the house. However, after receiving alarming news they were left wondering what in the world they’d gotten themselves into…
Steve Jenkins, a real estate agent and bagpipe player, and his husband Derek Walter, a magician, are two animal lovers from Ontario, Canada. When Steve received a phone call from an old friend in the summer of 2012 asking if he wanted to adopt a micro-pig he was hesitant…
Micro Pigs have become a pet trend over the past two decades, and it doesn’t take much thinking to understand why. The little piglets are absolutely adorable, not to mention they’re definitely a unique pet compared to cats and dogs! Still, did Steve really want to adopt his own?
After all, he and Derek had already taken in two rescue dogs, two cats, a turkey, and some koi fish. Would there be room for another four-legged friend? He said he needed to think about it. A few days later, however, he received another call.
The woman on the phone said that she needed Steve’s answer as soon as possible because other people were interested. It was enough to make Steve bite the bullet. With Derek at his side, he went to pick up their new pink baby.
Esther The Wonder Pig/Facebook
Her new dads named her Esther, and when they picked her up, she was looking underfed, with sunburnt ears and a collar that was too tight. But once she was home she made a speedy recovery. She was adapting quickly to the busy household, playing with the other pets, eating normally and even using the litter box.
Once Esther had some time to adjust, it was time for her to be checked up by a vet. The purpose of this was just to see if she was healthy, but the doctor noticed something that nearly knocked her dads off their feet.
It was obvious to the vet that Esther’s tail had been clipped, which is usually only done in commercial farming. However, micro-pigs aren’t bred for commercial farming. In other words?
It turned out that Esther was a regular old piglet! Whether the woman who contacted Steve had scammed him or if it was simply an honest mistake, Steve and Derek were at a loss for words. Were they ready to raise a regular pig? How big would Esther eventually get?
Having already fallen in love with the piglet, they decided to keep her. She acted no different than the dogs did: well-behaved (most of the time) and extremely friendly.
Although the vet had said she was underweight and would probably only become about 90kg (or 200 lbs), she already weighed 250 lbs by her first birthday — and she was still growing.
She loved every creature in the house, and they all loved her back. The family only grew larger after Esther’s arrival, with the addition of another dog and even a turkey! Steve and Derek’s hearts were so big, they couldn’t resist.
Once Esther was fully grown, she weighed around 550 lbs! She was an unstoppable force of love, joy, and loyalty, but she was growing so big, she could barely fit in the house anymore! It was time to make some adjustments…
The boys created an Indiegogo page to raise money to swap their house for a farm! It would act as a sanctuary for rescued farm animals, with Esther as the guest of honor. Their home wasn’t the only thing they changed for Esther though…
Esther’s dads couldn’t stop thinking about what would’ve happened to Esther if they had not adopted her. When they looked into Esther’s eyes, they could see so much emotion that they became vegetarians in her honor.
Esther was becoming more and more popular on social media, so Steve set up a website: EstherTheWonderPig.Com, where she quickly gained even more fans. Steve and Derek realized that more people should learn Esther’s story.
Esther The Wonder Pig/Instagram
In 2016, they published a book about their loving addition to the family: Happily Ever Esther. It detailed how she responded to her dads and her pet siblings, how they became crazy about her and how wonderful a pig can be.
The book was incredibly successful, and Esther’s story was now spreading like wildfire. It wasn’t long until Steve and Derek were invited to present a TED talk about their big little girl.
Her story influenced many people, inspiring them to come visit her, convincing them to become vegetarian, or just shedding light onto the loving nature of pigs in general. Her dads called it the “Esther Effect.”
Does the couple regret adopting their not-so-micro-pig? Not for a minute! They are happy to see their sanctuary slowly fill up with more and more wonderful animals.