Saturday, 24 September 2011

Hearts on Noses mini pig sanctuary.

I was extremely fortunate today.  I went to visit Hearts on Noses mini pig sanctuary in Mission, British Columbia.  I had a wonderful time.  Although I don't think I can encapsulate the entire trip eloquently in words, I took lots of pictures, so hopefully they will give you an idea.  I highly suggest that you contact Janice Gillett, the owner of the sanctuary, and go visit if you are interested.

Hearts on Noses is a sanctuary specifically for pigs that were formerly pets.  There are a few larger pigs (commonly referred to as "hogs", although they are just large pigs, the word "hog" is really a bit negative as Janice explained to me today, which I do agree with), but overall, they are mostly potbellied pigs that were bought as pets.  The sanctuary is located on 2.5 acres, with large pens for the pigs to run around in, and depending on the pigs and their dispositions, sometimes multiple pigs will be living in a pen together.  One pen had an entire family of about eight, but only because they got along well together.  These are hugs pens, so don't worry, the family of eight did not seem cramped in at all - although I'm sure they would rather be running around!
When we arrived, we walked up the driveway and were greeted by the "house pig" of Janice's.  All of the pigs are amazingly warm, affectionate and friendly.  The pig that greeted us (unfortunately I can't remember his name!), came right up to us and let us pet him.  Janice was very welcoming as well.  She clearly has a love for these animals that I would defy any animal lover to match.  It was easy to see why she loved them so much.
Every day Janice lets a group of the pigs have the run of the property.  Today was the day for the big pigs.  Janice let Rose and Comet out of their pens and gave them some food.  Rose is a big lady, and she daintily munched on her breakfast, then, just as she finished, remembered that there might be some food at the rear of the property and RAN there as fast as she could, which was surprisingly fast!  I had a good laugh at that.  I don't think I've ever seen a pig run, and certainly not that quickly (and gracefully).  It was a sight to behold.  Rose also has one very bad hip, which has caused her leg to atrophy, so it was even more impressive that she could move so swiftly having only three fully functioning limbs to run on!
Comet was similarly charming. He has the most endearing habit of throwing himself down on his side whenever you pet him - because he wants you to rub his tummy!  It's amazing that an animal of this size would be so playful and sweet.  I told Janice that I was going to have to point out that he wasn't dead when I took the pictures, because it's just such a strange sight to see a big pig like this lying down in this way!
We also got to see some younger potbellied pigs.  There were two named Olive and Truffles that live together in the same pen.  They move even faster than the larger pigs, and their tails wag just like a dogs, wagging constantly.  I sat next to Olive while she was eating and her mouth made the sweetest little noise when she chewed, "Smack, smack, smack."  I immediately wanted to take her home, which is exactly what the owners of all or most of the pigs at the sanctuary were probably thinking, before the pigs got too big for them to take care of.
The sadder side of the sanctuary is seeing the pigs that have either been abused or neglected.  Although they are all happy, loved and well-socialized at the sanctuary, and have their every need met, it is sad to think that this was not always the case. The pig in the following picture was missing a tusk and an ear.  If I remember correctly, the owners of the pig (prior to being brought to the sanctuary), let their dog rip the ear off.  I can't remember what happened to his tusk but I can imagine.
When I was watching Rose, one of the big pigs, as she was eating, I was reminded of the pigs ears (see this link for just a few reasons why they should not be eaten by dogs, quite aside from the reasons relating to killing animals) that are sold at pet stores.  I mentioned this to either Janice or her sister, who was also at the sanctuary this morning, and she told me that she had seen a package of pigs' snouts (don't click on that link if you aren't prepared to see what they look like - some people are more sensitive than others, think twice before you click) at the pet store.  I had never seen a pig's snout in action before this morning, but you would be amazed at how much they can move around, how sensitive and fantastic they are.

For those of you that live in the Lower Mainland, here is my Eco-nomical Living tip for the day: go and check out Hearts on Noses and other farm and animal sanctuaries in the area.  It is free to go and have a tour, it is heartwarming, and it is time very well spent.  Hearts on Noses, because it doesn't have any dogs and cats, has a harder time than many sanctuaries in raising the funds it requires to continue operating.  People look at dogs as pets and pigs as food.  Janice does not preach or even mention anything about the eating of animals, there are no questions asked about your preferences in this regard.  It is just a great place to visit, and a worthwhile organization to support, if you are so inclined.  No matter what is on your plate, no animals deserve to be abused and neglected because someone bought them as a pet and later decided they didn't care enough to take proper care of them.


  1. What a great write , thank you so very much from the Noses and me!!!

  2. Any time Janice! I'm happy to spread the good word!