Seeing people walk dogs is far from unusual, even if those people are UW–Platteville students.
One UWP student has a dog in her house, and a more unusual pet that can be seen on walks, a potbellied pig.
Michaela Guttenberg of Fort Atkinson can be seen walking her 11-month-old pig, Paisley, most days on the east side of the UWP campus.
“We call it the Zoo House, because we also have four people living there,” said Guttenberg.
Paisley was originally owned by high school students who were living at home.
“She was stuck by herself all day long, and pigs are herd animals,” said Guttenberg, who raised pigs and steers while participating in FFA in high school.
Paisley acts in many ways like a small dog. “They love to cuddle in your shirts,” said Guttenberg. “She sleeps with me in bed too.”
Potbellied pigs are generally considered pets and therefore aren’t covered under municipal animal ordinances as long as they don’t become what ordinances consider a public nuisance. The City of Platteville also allows “horses, cows, goats, sheep, donkey, ponies or mules,” plus poultry, within outdoor enclosures.
Paisley is about half the weight she can reach by her third birthday and adulthood, 80 to 150 pounds.
“She loves her grass,” said Guttenberg, who originally was a pre-veterinary medicine major before changing to soil and crop science. “She’ll graze all day long if she could, but she gets sunburn.”
Paisley eats Missouri pellets — sort of dog food for pigs — along with a daily salad, and fruit and vegetables for treats.
“They don’t do it all the time, but there are noises where they bark,” said Guttenberg. “She gets very aggressive with food.”
Walking Paisley farther than around the block requires around two hours, given how often Paisley stops to graze.
“She’s likely to eat everything in her path,” said Guttenberg. “Just a quick walk around the block can take 45 minutes.”
The other pet in Guttenberg’s house is a German shorthaired pointer, Penny. Guttenberg said Penny and Paisley get along “unless food is involved.”
Paisley is able to sit and kiss on command, and was learning to shake hands, or paws, at UWP exam time. “She does OK with it as long as there’s a treat in front of her,” said Guttenberg.