This happy ending has a curly little tail.
Pebbles the pig is very happy to be back home with his family after surviving a house fire. Photo credit: Barbara Potes
Barbara Potes wasn't sure her "grandpig," Pebbles, would ever be able to come home again after being badly injured in a northern Virginia house fire in late November.
"His right hoof was completely gone and his hair was singed and black," she says. "To us, Pebbles is a member of the family, and we were extremely worried."
The fire was in a closet in Potes' daughter's room, where Pebbles was napping. Her daughter -- who is Pebbles' "mom," Potes says -- had left a candle burning there when she left the house to get her nails done.
Potes, who'd been downstairs with her two other kids, heard smoke alarms and ran upstairs to find "what looked like a fog." She opened the closet door, found the fire, and then Pebbles ran straight into the flames.
"He knew his food bag was kept in the closet, and he was trying to get to it," she says.
Pebbles -- who Potes says is ordinarily a "strictly indoor pig" -- then ran downstairs and somehow got himself out the front door.
"I tried to find Pebbles during the time I was trying to put out the fire, but [the fire] took over her room within minutes, and he kept running from me," says Potes. "I had to get the other kids and dog out. When I got them out and came back upstairs to look for him again, it was pitch black and I couldn't even call his name because the smoke was so thick, and I couldn't see anything."
The pig had made it to the house of a neighbor, who called animal control. Officers showed up quickly, wrapping the injured pig in wet towels and administering oxygen before reaching out to Hilleary Bogley, president of the Middleburg Humane Foundation, a farm-based Virginia shelter for abused, neglected and at-risk animals .
"I made some calls and was able to find a vet to meet us," says Bogley. Within 45 minutes, Pebbles had been examined and given medication to help his pain.
He was then brought to the shelter for what would turn into 36 days of intensive care.
Those days were tough. About 80 percent of Pebbles' body was burned. He was suffering from smoke inhalation and needed near-constant "nebulizing" and syringe feedings every 45 minutes. He had to be slathered in ointment twice a day.
Pebbles didn't even respond to his family visiting him, though they came to see him nearly every day.
The day after Thanksgiving, Pebbles started to improve. His breathing got better. He started being able to eat and drink on his own. He responded when his family came to see him.
"He would wag his tail and be happy to see his little brother, sister, mom and grandmom," says Bogley.
Pebbles loved his Thanksgiving treat. Photo credit: Middleburg Humane Foundation
By Christmas, the porcine patient was well enough to visit his people at their rental. (The family house is still being fixed.) "[It] was the best Christmas present we could've gotten," says Potes.
It got even better on Jan. 4, when the Middleburg Humane Foundation threw their first-ever pig burn victim a massive farewell party, replete with pig-themed cupcakes and 150-some supporters who turned up to wish this lucky pig a safe trip home.
"He was a wonderful patient!" says Bogley. "It was an honor to care for him and to help him get back to the family. It was a long road but well worth the journey."
The Poteses are thrilled, and awfully relieved, to have their spoiled little piggy back living with them.
"I am truly overwhelmed and grateful for all the love that has been shown to Pebbles and our family since this happened. I will be forever grateful to the community and Middleburg Humane Foundation for saving our baby's life," says Potes.
As for the "baby," his hoof isn't yet completely better, but Potes says Pebbles' spirit is 100 percent.
"He almost acts like nothing ever happened since he's been home. He wants to run and play but we have to keep him calm and relaxed until his foot is completely healed," she says. "It amazes me Pebbles is such a strong little guy, and is truly an amazing pig to have made it through this and come out with a big smile on his face."
The Middleburg Humane Foundation is a nonprofit that relies on donations to fund its animal rescue work. Proceeds from Pebbles the Pig T-shirt go directly to MHF.
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