October 18, 2012

I’m Supposed to Be Dead

Wild Boar



I’m Dennis. Ya’ll know me by now. Giacomo saved me when I was just a baby, but now I can take care of myself. It was touch and go for a while; the vet even told Giacomo to, “put him down.”

Imagine that! It had me worried, but I had some good advice from Queen Shinobi, the old girl on the sanctuary. And when I say old, trust me, she’s old. She greeted me when I first got here. I thought she was being nice, but she only wanted to tell me who the boss was. Shinobi likes to sound tough, but she must have felt sorry for me because she told me to pay no attention to what the vet said; she said Giacomo and Mikki would make up their own minds, but that it was all up to me.

“If you want to live,” Shinobi said, “you’ll live.”

I’ve come to find out Shinobi knew what she was talking about, but I’ll let her tell the story.

Shinobi Grazing


My name is Shinobi. I’m a potbelly pig, and I’m supposed to be dead.

About 19 years ago Giacomo and his wife came to the place where I was born and got me out of there. It was a good thing because some bully pig had already bitten off part of my ear. I was only five weeks old but already I liked doing things my way, so even though Giacomo was busting me out of a bad situation, I screamed all the way home—just to show him who the boss was. And let me tell you, when I scream, it’s loud. Pigs can scream at 115 decibels. A jet engine is 113 decibels. I quickly realized that if I screamed I got whatever I wanted, and I had a way of letting them know what I wanted. Of course it usually involved food. (Did I mention how smart pigs were?)

The First Incident

I was about six months old when one of the damn dogs knocked me off the deck. I ended up breaking my front leg and couldn’t walk. A vet came out, and in less than ten minutes decided I had no chance. The vet told Giacomo to “put her down.”

When I heard that, I struggled to get to my feet, flopping around like a fish in a boat. Giacomo’s wife calmed me down, and then she told the vet, “We’re not putting her down. We’ll find a way.”

For six months, two times a day, Giacomo and his wife lifted me into a wagon and rolled me outside so I could go to the bathroom—pigs don’t do that stuff in the house. During the seventh month I got up on my own and walked to the door. I let out a little squeal to let them know I was ready.

I know they were happy, but so was I—they used to bang my head in that damn wagon.

Second Incident

Anyway, the next year they moved to a farm so they would have room for more animals. Shortly after that I got real sick and they called a vet. A new vet. I had a fever of 106 degrees for several days. It was so bad I couldn’t eat. I couldn’t even drink, so they had to force liquids into me. This vet did a bunch of tests and said I had cancer, and suggested they, “put her down.”

Giacomo’s wife was crying, and she was about ready to do it, but Giacomo said no. “Let’s give her a shot,” he said. I didn’t have much choice, so I got better. It took me a while, but within a month I was back to my grumpy self. Besides, I had work to do; Giacomo and his wife had gotten more animals and they needed someone to tell them what to do.

And Another

For about ten more years things went fine, then, out of the blue, something went wrong. I started throwing up, got another nasty fever, and couldn’t eat again. It was real bad this time. Even I thought it was over. We went to another new vet and this one said the same thing as the others, “put her down.” But Giacomo wouldn’t hear of it, and his wife took care of me every day for weeks, maybe months. There were a lot of times when I felt like giving up, but I knew the rest of those “less-fortunate” animals on the farm couldn’t make it without me, so I tried harder. Finally, one morning I felt a little better. The next day I was standing up when Giacomo’s wife came to greet me.

Shinobi, 19 years old


I still walk with a limp from that broken leg. I don’t always feel so good after eating a bunch of acorns. And I don’t like the cold as much as I used to. But I celebrated my nineteenth birthday a couple of months ago, and I intend to see a few more. (They give me cake on my birthday—with lots of icing.)

I heard Giacomo say that some pig just made a record for the oldest potbellied pig. She was 21 years and 3 months. Hah! That’ll be a piece of cake to break. Who knows, if I do break the record, maybe they’ll give me some extra icing.


Bottom Line

Sometimes, when things seem darkest, you have to reach down inside of you and find a way to struggle through. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel. Whether that light takes you to a new place or brings you home doesn’t matter. Just buckle up and go for the ride.

Ciao, and thanks for dropping by,




Giacomo Giammatteo is the author of Murder Takes Time, and A Bullet For Carlos. He lives in Texas where he and his wife have an animal sanctuary with 41 loving “friends.”


4 Responses to “I’m Supposed to Be Dead”

  1. Great read Pops

    It’s not the destination, it’s the ride.

  2. Absolutely, Tony.

  3. Laughing about the squealing part…and the cake.

    The Giammatteo pets could conduct their own “people training” course (like pet training, but in reverse).

    They’ve got PHDs by now in communicating — and getting — what they want.

    Too bad they can’t write their own blogs/books for real…so many stories they could tell!

  4. They tell me what to say!

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