15-week-old piglet makes loads of puppy pals at Australia's NSW Animal Rescue

By Alison Schwartz
Updated July 14, 2010 09:17 PM

When Wilbur leaves the NSW Animal Rescue this weekend to go to his new forever home, the 15-week-old mini pig will certainly be missed by the shelter employees who have coddled and cuddled the squealing piglet for the past two weeks.

But more so, he’ll be missed by his playmates – his canine playmates. In the short time he’s been at the Bringelly, Australia-based shelter, he’s had a doggone good time befriending all the puppies – and becoming one of the pack.

“I sort of wonder if Wilbur thinks he’s a dog,” Lyn Johannessen, chief executive officer of the shelter, tells PEOPLEPets.com. “He doesn’t hurt them, and he certainly likes to share their toys.” While his jaw span isn’t wide enough to pick up a ball, he’s been known to tote a sock in his mouth like a good retriever.

He even gives love like a good dog. “I just love the way he nuzzles into to you – his head, his neck, his nose,” Johannessen says. “He just snuggles right into you.” Named after the leading pig in the children’s classic Charlotte’s Web, Wilbur seems to have more in common with another fictitious farm animal: Babe, the pig who yearns to be a sheepdog.

In honor of their (somewhat confused) little friend’s departure, Johannessen is throwing a barbecue, but don’t worry – Wilbur isn’t on the menu! The shelter is proudly vegan, and the one definite item on the menu is grapes. The piglet will do anything for a grape, Johannessen says.

The farewell fest will be bittersweet, but she knows they’ve found him a great home – after all, they had more than 200 options to sift through. When his original owners could no longer care for the little pig, Johannessen went to the local press to find Wilbur new pet parents. Within hours, she says there were about 207 contenders who wanted to take him in.

The shelter screened applicants carefully, considering property size and pet experience, and ended up choosing a woman with 10 acres of land and a miniature goat for Wilbur to play with!

As the first pig the shelter took in, Wilbur has left his mark – and not a mess. Johannessen says he is very clean and doesn’t smell.

“We’ll all miss Wilbur very much,” Jonathan Johannessen, general manager of the shelter, says. “I think he’s been a great addition to the shelter – he just makes everyone’s day.”