We are celebrating Old Friends this week! Today we will be showcasing 16 year old Rootie with a message from CAPE’s Animal Care Director.
Rootie is a 16 year old pig, approximately 350 pounds, and was one of the first animals I met at the sanctuary when I began working as a caregiver. Rootie was the first pig I had ever met, and I wasn’t sure how he would act and I was slightly intimidated by his size. But it was obvious quite quickly that Rootie is gentle, loving, hilarious, and easy to care for.
Rootie has spent nearly his whole life at the CAPE Animal Sanctuary and he is interwoven into the fabric here. There are spots all over the pastures where he has rooted up the soil or cleared it for a perfect sunbathing spot. There is a mud puddle on each side of the barnyard pasture and can I tell you that there is no greater enjoyment than watching a pig soak in his puddle. There are small rakes all over the place that Rootie loves to be used to scratch his belly and underarms with. The staff loves making two daily homemade meals for him. Rootie’s presence brings so much joy to all of us who care for him.
For the past two months, Rootie’s needs have become much more intense. Several weeks ago, Rootie began to show signs of weakness in his back legs. While this is common in older pigs, there is no clear treatment or diagnosis. So, we worked around the clock caring for Rootie: providing him with medication, ensuring he was staying hydrated and fed, helping him up every few hours to walk or shift positions, and getting him comfortable in his cozy bed of straw. While he does have days where he regains some strength, he continues to need much more support than he used to.
Through this new period of caring for Rootie, my relationship with him has deepened. These past few weeks, we have shared many powerful moments where Roo’s emotional intelligence has been very clear. It started with him sitting up when I came into his stall, then he started resting his head in my lap while I gave him meds, his eyes looking at me with such love and trust. Recently he has started gently pushing his snout onto my cheek, like he’s doing in the video. Rootie may not use words like we do, but I understand what he is telling me.
In this video, I say to Rootie that he is the sweetest pig that ever lived. But the truth is that he is a representative of all pigs and their ability to communicate and have emotional connections. Rootie is a daily reminder that pigs (just like dogs and horses and chickens and goats and all animals) have an ability to process their circumstances and they clearly appear to experience joy, gratitude, pain and fear. It is up to us to make choices to ensure that all beings, human and non-human, have the path to a peaceful life free from suffering.
I want to thank you for your continued support of CAPE’s various rescue programs. Animals like Rootie are getting the best of care and it is such an honor to care for them all. If you would like to know more about Rootie, please go HERE!
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