Backstage at Rose Hill Elementary’s auditorium, a micro mini potbelly pig gets the star treatment: grapes, baby bottle, and a barrage of squee-ing ladies. His name is Squealy Dan, and he weighs in at 2 pounds, 6 ounces. A mixture of half Juliana, half Vietnamese, his breed has increased in popularity in the last couple years as a domestic pet. Today, Squealy Dan is at Rose Hill to play the part of “Hamlet” from the children’s book Our Principal Promised to Kiss a Pig; and that’s exactly what principal Christopher Denmark is about to do.
His students met the challenge of reading more than 200,000 minutes within a three-week span—a fact he’s proud and, now, a little hesitant about. Still, he busts out the chapstick. “Obviously I’d do anything for the kids,” he says, smiling. When the time comes to smooch “Hamelt,” the song playing above hundreds of overzealous kids is apropos: Prince’s “Kiss.”
“That is the cutest pig I’ve ever seen,” says one teacher in the audience, watching her coworkers queue up to give Squealy Dan a peck or two. “I could kiss that pig, easy.” That’s because this amicable micro mini is in the well-placed hands of owner, breeder Lisa Cooper. Operating out of Arvada, Cooper has raised more than 50 healthy potbelly pigs in the last three years. Squealy Dan is her smallest. “He’ll only get up to ten pounds,” she says, wrapping him in a blanket.
Caring for micro pigs takes macro skills. First of all, their body (covered in hair, not fur) doesn’t regulate temperature well, so it’s necessary to wear a sweater at times for warmth or dip in the mud to keep cool. And while getting them litter box trained is easy—they are the third smartest animal—you have to instead use wood chips or newspaper. “Otherwise,” Cooper says, “If you use sand, they could snort it and possibly get sick and die from the chemicals.”
The biggest thing to be wary of are deceitful breeders. It’s not uncommon for them to starve or interbreed pigs so they’re smaller. In turn, more than half of the piglets have lower immune systems or die. But should a breeder, like Cooper, check out OK, micro mini pigs are some of the most social and personable pets to own. They even sleep underneath your bed covers. How’s that for pigs in a blanket?