Thursday, February 3, 2011

The pig that's top dog: Pot-bellied porker outshines the canines in agility team


In synch: Louie the pig jumps a fence with a fellow display team member. He performs at agricultural shows around the country

Trotting through tunnels, leaping over jumps and weaving between poles, Louie would be a valuable member of any dog agility team but for one thing.

He’s a pig.

The nine-month-old pot-bellied crossbreed is a non-showbusiness version of Babe, the movie pig that thinks it’s a sheepdog.

Like any faithful hound, Louie already walks to heel on a lead, responds to his name and even plays fetch.

He will tackle the toughest of agility courses on command – so long as there is a ginger biscuit for him at the end. And such is his aptitude that owner Sue Williams hopes he will one day perform in her Cheshire county dog display team at Crufts.

Mrs Williams, 42, an animal behaviourist, said Louie had joined her eight-strong pig collection at the age of three months. Because the others were so much bigger he had to be kept separately for his own safety and was given the freedom to roam the grounds of her home in Porthmadog, North Wales.

Intelligent: Louie the pig not only sprints through tunnels but he retains information quicker than the dogs on the display team, according to his owner

‘One day, when I was training my dogs, I was trying to get one to run through a tunnel,’ she said.

‘Louie decided to zoom through the tunnel instead. I was really taken aback. I thought, “Hold on a minute – the pig’s doing a better job than the dog”.’

According to Mrs Williams, Louie has been accepted by his canine colleagues because he has earned his place in the team.

Show-off: Sue Williams trains Louie and a dog ahead of their next performance

Comrades: Louie acts like a dog and is treated like one - he is even taken for walks on a lead

Together they have appeared in half a dozen agricultural and talent shows and, once Louie is granted an official animal exhibition licence from the local council, Mrs Williams hopes he will be able to compete in real dog shows and even Crufts.

‘The crowds are always totally amazed when they see what Louie can do, and how well he performs in comparison with the dogs,’ she added. ‘It just shows dog and animal owners that if you use the right type of training and reinforce good behaviour through reward you can do anything with any animal.

‘He retains information quicker than a dog so, once he’s done a trick a few times, he knows what he’s doing. Plus, he absolutely loves his ginger biscuits.’

Pigs might fly: Owner Sue's ultimate ambition is for Louie to participate in Crufts one day

Full of beans: Before he joined the display team Louie would excitedly run up to the field where she was training her dog team and avidly watch them

source: dailymail

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