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The Good Good Pig: The Extraordinary Life of Christopher Hogwood    by Sy Montgomery order for
Good Good Pig
by Sy Montgomery
Order:  USA  Can
Ballantine, 2006 (2006)
Hardcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke

Christopher Hogwood was the runt of a litter of New Hampshire piglets (weight around seven pounds compared to siblings of fifty to sixty-five pounds each) adopted by Sy Montgomery and her spouse, writer Howard Mansfield. (Full-color photos provided.) He was so small, the new owners brought him home in a shoebox. The elegant name of Christopher Hogwood was borrowed from a 'conductor and musicologist', who founded the Academy of Ancient Music (apparently pigs have an affinity for classical music).

With plenty of charm and personality, Christopher liked to wear sunglasses, drink beer, be hugged, and pose for photos. Over the years, this seven-pound wonder flourished to a weight of seven-hundred and -fifty pounds (and was told by a vet that he needed to go on a diet)! Chris gained a lot of attention from the community in Hancock which delivered buckets of leftovers to his gate. He often escaped from his pen - no matter what kind of latch was installed, he learned to undo it. The pig was an explorer, and a call would come occasionally from a neighbor - 'There's a pig on my lawn. Is it yours?' Chris was often escorted home by townsfolk (and the media) who came to know and love him. Chris even had his name entered on town voting ballots!

Insightful information is provided by Montgomery about pigs, their lifetime, eating habits, why the sow rejects the runt and is otherwise possessive of her brood. Even though pigs are generally good natured, 'more people are killed by pigs than sharks'. The author adds - 'Which should be no surprise - how often do you get to see a shark?' The reason for pigs' 'razor-sharp canines' which 'strop each other' is for defense in the wild. Montgomery writes that 'wild pigs are gregarious creatures, living in groups called sounders of about twenty animals' or more, and that communities of pigs are known as drifts. 'Feral pigs (more than four million running around in the United States alone) can kill adult humans if they are threatened.' Pigs snuggle together when they sleep, and 'if baby pigs are anxious, they'll stick together tightly, a phenomenon called by hog farmers - 'squealing superglue'.' As his ancestors did, Christopher came to know the scent and footsteps of those who visited his domain, and would give a grunt of greeting and recognition - 'Unhhhhhh! Nhhhhhhhhhh!' Some friends voiced that Chris was probably 'half-human and half-animal'.

Sy Montgomery's The Good Good Pig is a gentle, yet powerful story. She writes of Christopher as a mentor, who provided many lessons of value on community, family, and self-acceptance. Montgomery is a naturalist, documentary scriptwriter, radio commentator, and author of children's and adult books, including Journey of the Pink Dolphins, Spell of the Tiger, and Search for the Golden Moon Bear. Montgomery says this of the disappearance of predatory animals: 'Human relationships with predators have always been thorny. Predators are the first creatures our kind purposely eradicates ... the wars wage against wolves, mountain lions, bobcats, bears.' I recommend her writings to all animal lovers.

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