Saskatchewan

Sask. family owns more than 30 pets, including a goat and pot-bellied pig

A pygmy goat named Stella and a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig named Jelly Bean are two unconventional pets owned by the Garratt family.

Stella the goat and Jelly Bean the pot-bellied pig are two unique pets owned by the Garratt family

Jelly Bean the Vietnamese pot-bellied pig and Stella the pygmy goat are two unique pets owned by the Garratt family. (Tara Garratt/submitted)

A love for animals runs in Tara Garratt's family. Between herself, her husband, Kevin, and their three children, they own more than 30 pets in their home outside of Regina.

They have rabbits, guinea pigs, dogs, a budgie, reptiles and more.

"I think there is a piece that is genetic, I come from a family of animal lovers from my mom's side for sure," said Garratt.

From the corn snake to the cats, Garratt said the pets all have their own unique and interesting personalities, but the two most unconventional indoor pets are a pygmy goat named Stella and a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig named Jelly Bean.

Stella was born in a pasture but needed a lot of special care.

"She had a great deal of difficulty at birth," said Garratt.

"She had no suck reflex so the ability to nurse wasn't going to be there. My daughter intervened. The options were to intervene or to humanely put her down but we decided intervention is what we wanted to try."

Stella the goat sticks her head outside her kennel at the Garratts' home. (Tara Garratt/submitted)

Stella takes longer to learn things than other goats, and requires a lot of repetition. It took her several days to learn to walk and stand.

"She has seizures and after a seizure will often forget all the things she has learned. Even though she is going to be two in May, it is only within the last month that she can consistently remember how to drink out of a bowl."

Garratt said Stella loves to run and jump now, but for a while, if she looked too hard at anything, she would fall over.

"She likes to temporarily visit the other goats. They don't welcome her into the herd in any way," said Garratt.

"But she likes to go out and visit and then come back to the house."

Stella has matured to the point where she will eat her kibble without throwing it.

Stella is known for being a picky eater and used to have a habit of throwing her kibble at others for attention. (Tara Garratt/submitted)

"She would pick them up and spit them or use her face to bounce the bowl so the kibble would fly out," said Garratt.

Garratt added that her favourite foods are paper and Timbits.

"She might not always remember her name but she can recognize a Timbit box at a hundred yards."

Jelly Bean the pig

Jelly Bean, a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig, has been queen of the house for the last 10 years.

"Our daughter will say that Jelly Bean really doesn't belong to anybody. She just kind of rooms with [them]," said Garratt.

The pig enjoys fruits and vegetables except broccoli.

Jelly Bean loves fruits and vegetables but hates broccoli. (Tara Garratt/submitted)

While Stella requires a lot of care and attention, Jelly Bean makes her own decisions and enjoys sophisticated pleasures like being read a good book.

"She'll go and stand in front of the bookshelf. And if you ask her which one she wants, like you can say, 'Jelly Bean, Do you do you want Stellaluna?' And because she knows the repertoire of of the books, she can oink at the one she wants," said Garratt.

Garratt said Jelly Bean is fine with being in on the joke, but she doesn't like being the butt of it.

"Jelly Bean gets very upset when people laugh at her. She's able to determine if people are just laughing or laughing at her. And she does get very upset if people are laughing at her," said Garratt.

Jelly Bean understands instructions and is the easiest to train among the pets, according to Garratt.

"The capacity to learn is is very high. They definitely interact, like they are very interactive. They're not a pet for everyone because they can be so powerful," said Garratt.

"A pig that weighs under five pounds can lift a full sized stove with its snout and because their sense of smell is so good they can smell that Cheerio that rolls underneath."

Garratt said she had to teach Jelly Bean to not root under her appliances like the stove and fridge.

While pot-bellied pig make great pets, Garratt warns they are a lot of responsibility.

"I believe very strongly that they are a lifetime commitment," said Garratt.

"So to think that you're going to have it for a little while and then pass it off to somebody else. So to live on the farm, that's not fair because that's not the lifestyle that they understand."

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Samanda Brace

Current Affairs Associate Producer

Samanda Brace is a Current Affairs Associate Producer where she gathers stories mainly for CBC radio's The Morning Edition. She got her start at CBC in 2014 as an intern in the Regina newsroom. Get in touch with her by emailing samanda.brace@cbc.ca

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