the Helan zhu

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Post   » Wed Apr 09, 2003 10:51 pm

well, since i have about 30 minutes before i have to leave for Mandarin class, I'll tell you all about my pigs (Helan zhu in Mandarin, literally means "Holland pigs." ). I think my significant other, who I live with, is even now wallowing in new depths of amused scorn as I write about the seemingly silly, prosaic little pigs. But whatever.

So there's the aptly named Jaws, who we christened such because the first time I held him, he chomped enthusiastically at my fingers, aiming to sample them in a fit of hunger, and drew blood. It didn't deter us, though (we knew it wasn't out of aggression.) Now that Jaws has a cardboard palace, lots of pellets and vegetables to crush and devour daily, he contents himself with affectionately using my fingers as a salt lick. He also popcorns insanely, which I know is normal for babies, but I really thought we had a possessed, epileptic pig on our hands at first, and was kind of concerned.
You see, we live in Beijing, and weeeelll....China isn't teeming with pet supply stores, as I've said elsewhere. It IS a developing country, after all The culture of pet owning isn't nearly as developed as it is in the US (I mean our attitudes towards our "companion animals," etc and resulting resources) So there isn't even much equipment for small mammal owners. So I worry about what to do if one of the pigs gets seriously ill--I'll have to take my chances with one of the vets here, and I don't think they'd know what to do with a guinea pig. I probably know more about them than the average vet here (they do cats and dogs, of course, but that's about it I think.)

I do not teach them Chinese, even though they are far more native Chinese than I am. (I'm a good ole American.) After all, the tonal, mono-syllabic language is probably much more suited to their wheeky little palates than it is mine. ;) They don't need MY help.

Oh, yes. Then there's Mortimer, the other baby boar. He's younger, smaller, and quieter than the dominant Jaws, who is always into everything and wants to test the chew-ability of those juicy looking wires in the corner. Mortimer, I think, is more "cuddly," although he DOES do that blank,hypnotic, motionless stare thing when sitting in my lap. He ain't exactly a purring kitten. We named him Mortimer because he looked sort of nerdy and anxious when we brought him home, and Mortimer is a decidedly "nerdy" name, don't you think? :D

Both the boys display a discerning taste when it comes to vegetable choices. I believe at this point they are afraid of tomatoes, as they always shriek and run in the other direction when I try to offer them one. Since we're in Beijing, I feed them any number of leafy Chinese greens. i.e. bok choy, Chinese broccoli (gai lan), Chinese celery, coriander, name it. BUT, they are picky. I used to own rats which ate ANYTHING with greedy, hog-like delight and the pigs defintely are much pickier. I haven't hit on the vegetable/fruit that really gets them going just yet.

They are pretty vocal and excited to see me whenever I walk by, and are beginning to do that adorable wheeking and standing-up-on-hind-legs sort of begging. They have one great fear in life, however. Of that pale, dreaded Hand that reaches into the cage with its tentacles, ready to bear them off to the Great Stewpot of Hell....I mean, that's what they must be thinking, because they run from the Hand like it's trying to stick them with red-hot knives. They don't connnect my face or my voice with the Hand, I don't think. But they're fine once I pick them up, it's just the process.

Ooh....gotta go learn Mandarin, or at least simulate learning. The pigs are currently napping under a towel covered with poos. Back to the cardboard palace! (i'm gonna work on better accomodations when i find material.)

the end.

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Post   » Fri Apr 11, 2003 2:10 pm

You have lots of both guts and heart. Bravo.
Keep trying to introduce different vegetables every couple of wheeks or so. Mine took a real liking to tomatoes after just a few wheeks. And mandarin oranges - wow! Even green pepper, which I did not introduce at all for over a month. You will notice changes in behaviour over time too. All the best from central Canada.

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