Saturday, January 5, 2013
That's some pig!
From the Times Ledger:
Nadine Darsanlal’s life was never the same after she teamed up with her service dog Harvey three years ago, and now she is trying to help others discover the therapeutic power of animals by training her second pet — a clever micro pig named Wilbur.
Darsanlal found Harvey after serving in the U.S. Navy from 1997-2001. After she got out she contracted an illness that left her partially disabled, she said. The College Point resident had trouble bending down to pick objects off the ground and getting out of bed in the morning due to chronic pain, but found relief after her application for a service dog was accepted by an organization called Dogs for Deaf and Disabled Americans, which partnered her with the pooch. Harvey picks up objects, turns on lights, puts on shoes and generally lifts up her spirits.
About a year and a half ago, Darsanlal decided to purchase a pig as a playmate for Harvey, she said. When the tiny porker arrived at their home, he became fast friends with his canine co-habitant and had a great personality. That is when she decided to train Wilbur to become a therapy pet, using her knowledge of training Harvey.
The sow can shake hands, sit and perform all manner of tricks. If the word “apple juice” is spoken, even from 20 yards away, it will come running.
Darsanlal has taken the duo to area schools, including the Renaissance Charter School in Jackson Heights. The principal there declared Harvey and Wilbur well-behaved and “a delight” for both students and teachers.
But it might be difficult for Wilbur to be recognized as a therapy animal in New York City.