Potbellied Pigs: Are the Lardiest Pets a Health Hazard?

"I don't think of them as house pets," said Heidi Hesselein, who, several years ago, received a 150-pounder as a gift from a professional colleague.

"Phoebe was the smartest pet we had, but she was completely focused on eating," said Hesselein, who had raised farm pigs as a child. "She wasn't like a dog that interacts and plays. We found her fascinating, but she was very bullheaded, and there was nothing warm and fuzzy about her."

Phoebe had free run of Pleasant Run Nursery, the Allentown, N.J., farm where Hesselein and her husband sell wholesale exotic plants. In the spring, the hog would ravage the Chinese chestnuts.

"She was a handful, and I can't imagine how I would take her on a leash and walk her where she didn't want to go," said Hesselein. "She was disgustingly fat, like a barrel on four legs, and when she got bored, she'd let out a shattering squeal."

Her Last Supper

Unfortunately, Phoebe met her demise one day on one of her food rampages. She broke into the greenhouse and ate rat poison.

But, as Hesselein remembers fondly, "She was a great hit with the customers."

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