In doing research on how to care for our potbellied pig, I learned that pigs are considered the fourth most intelligent species on the planet, behind humans, apes and dolphins.

So far, 5-month-old Ziggy hasn’t opened any latched doors or figured out how to pilfer treats, but she’s no dummy, either. She responds to being told “no” and associates the sound of our daughter’s basement door opening with “feeding time.”

At 28 pounds, she’s caught up to the dog in length, but not quite in height, and outweighs him by a good five pounds of muscle. He’s not as inclined to chase her around as he used to be, now that the tables have turned and it’s he who gets batted across the floor when they play.

I’m still trying to learn Piggish. The vocabulary may be limited, but the syntax is complex. There’s “murf, murf, murf,” which is a happy, contented grunt Ziggy makes just after she’s eaten a meal and is foraging the living room rug for any interesting bits, like a treasure hunter sweeping a lawn with a metal detector. A higher-pitched “ee-ee-ee-ee” while pacing around our shins means “I want to jump up and sit with you.” And there’s a strange bellow that sounds like the headcrab zombies on the video game Half-Life 2 (or if you’re not a gamer, Tim Allen’s caveman-sounding grunt at the end of the theme song to “Home Improvement”), the meaning of which is not yet clear.

The utterance that never fails to crack us up is Ziggy’s laugh. When the dog is occupying his bed, and Ziggy is roaming around, doing whatever holds a pig’s interest, if she comes near the dog bed her constant little “murf” grunt turns into “ah ah ah ah.” It’s as if something about his current state amuses her. Or maybe she’s divulging a haughty ego: “Poor fool of a pug. I am the superior being now. Ah ah ah ah.”

For now, my husband is her transcriptionist on her Facebook page. Those of you who’d like to correspond are welcome to add Ziggy Strecker as a friend. Murf!

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