Higher Thinker

He talks to us all the time. He just stands in front of us and yells—urrrg, urrrg, urrrg

  Location Fort Greene
Rent $1,300 Square feet 600 [studio apartment in tenement building]
Occupants Kelli Miller [master's student in architecture] ; Jason Loewenstein

Well, a pig. [Pig] Snork, grunt. [Jason] Come on, Bub. [He goes to his water bowl.]

Kelli Miller and Jason Loewenstein
photo: Cary Conover
Kelli Miller and Jason Loewenstein

That's a big one. [Kelli] One hundred and five pounds. When we found him, he very easily fit on your lap. It was on the streets in Louisville. He was just in the gutter.

Lying there. He was standing up nosing through the leaves. We found him two homes. They returned him each time. [Jason] Within a day. [Kelli] At that age, he required a lot of attention.

What kind? He pees for a very long time. [Jason] We're talking minutes, five at least.

Is he housebroken? [Kelli] Yes. [She smiles.] When he lived with the dogs, they didn't let him mess up. They taught him the ropes. When we moved here, they all slept together. When the dogs died, he slept with us for quite some time. That was three years ago. [Jason] For farm pigs, he's well over the offing point. [Kelli] He's not a farm pig. [Jason] The Jamaicans up the road totally want him. At first it was a joke. Now it's relentless. They'll be chopping a coconut: "Come here, pig." [Kelli] They don't even eat meat.

What's he thinking about mostly? He talks to us all the time. He just stands in front of us and yells—urrrg, urrrg, urrrg, urrrg.

How long does he go on? A long time.

Do you have to clean him? I bathe him once every month and a half—in the bathtub. He doesn't have an odor of his own.

Like an actor. He picks up the odor of dryer sheets, whatever the blanket smells like. He's a little territorial about the apartment. [She shrugs.] He kind of doesn't like people.

Right now he's in his cage snoozing but what would he do? He'd kind of lunge. It's just sudden—as soon as you cross our door. Outside, he's very sweet. Little kids surround him at the park. He has two sets of tusks. We have to have them cut every month.

Do you know others who have pigs? [Kelli to Jason] You know one in DUMBO. [Jason] Just rumored.

Let's get him off his blanket. [He works his way over and lies at Kelli's feet, eye open.] I don't understand why pigs are so fat. I'm not saying that your pig is fat or anything. [ Kelli] He only eats a cup and a half of kibble a day. They have young formula, adult, and mature. [Jason] His favorite fruit is pears. [Kelli] He won't eat the florets of broccoli. The Jamaicans on the corner give him mangoes. [Jason] Sometimes he'll run off with them like a dog.

The pigs were the organizers in Animal Farm. [Kelli] He's such a higher thinker. We got the crate in June. Before, if we weren't here, he'd open the refrigerator and take what he wanted. He'd get very angry at us. Once we walked in on him. [Jason] He had built a ladder and he was climbing on it. [Kelli] He'd wedged a chair and the gate to where he could get up on the table where we kept his food. If we don't pay attention to him, he'll take CDs out of the cabinet.

How long does it take him to get up the stairs, with that big bottom of his? He's just like lightning when he wants to be. [Jason] Three flights in five minutes.

Was he ever a father? [Kelli] I had him neutered the day after I found him. The smell!

Can I pet him? Yes. [Pig] Arrrugh. [Kelli] He's always moody. The first three years were really hard. I'll call it the terrible twos. He was angry all the time. I even looked for a pig psychologist. There's one in Texas. [Jason] The thing about it was he was so far away.

 
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