Real Life

This piggy gets jiggy!

Pigs might not be able to fly but that’s one of the few talents that clever porker Don Rash has still to master. This all-action kune kune pig loves to abseil, can drive a truck, ride a motorbike and do a mean impression of Michael Jackson’s famous moonwalk

“Don loves showing off,” says his owner, Barry Woods, who runs Woodlyn Park resort in Waitomo. “Pigs are a lot like dogs when it comes to intelligence. As a baby, he had a collar and a lead, and went everywhere with me, even indoors. He would sleep my feet while I watched TV. Then I taught him to do tricks using treats as a reward. He likes his food, so it was easy.”

Don had to save the 70kg pig’s bacon once though, when he was hognapped for the pot. “He wandered off and someone took him home,” says Barry. “I searched everywhere for him and eventually found him in someone’s fattening pen! That was a very lucky escape for him.”

Don, who performs in a stage show at Woodlyn Park, also learned to climb, stand up, shake his head for yes or no, abseil in a harness, and do the moonwalk. Barry also started taking Don out in the sidecar of his motorbike. “He puts his head out into the wind, just like a dog,” laughs Barry. The friendly piggy isn’t afraid to ham it up for attention – or his supper.

“He’s the best-travelled pig in the country. We went across to Wellington on the ferry and he danced for the crew. He got me a free meal and a beer, and himself some free scraps. He loved it!” “If I go to a shop to get myself a coffee and him a cream cake, and tie him up outside, I come out to find people surrounding him and feeding him biscuits. It’s like being mates with a celebrity.”

Now seven – an adult in kune kune terms – Barry reckons Don deserves a few nights off, and has trained a handful of other pigs to perform during his show. But Don still likes to trot out into the spotlight whenever he can. “He’s a really social animal, and loves the fuss,” Don says. “He gets excited and oinks and grunts, because he knows he’s going to get treats.” But when his performing days are over, Don is assured of a long and happy life.”When he’s too long in the tooth, we’ll put him into retirement,” Don says firmly. “And then he can have all the cream cakes he wants.”

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