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Meet Piggie Smalls, Manhattan Beach's Favorite Pig

May 28, 2020 11:04AM ● By Jeanne Fratello
Have you met Piggie Smalls, Manhattan Beach's favorite pig? If you've gone for a walk on the Strand in El Porto, you've probably seen Piggie, who loves his daily walks almost as much as he loves people, food, and a good nap. 

"We'll be walking down the street and people will yell, 'Piggie Smalls!'" said owner Amanda Lee. "He literally brings a lot of joy to people on the Strand."

Piggie is a 5-year-old mini pot-bellied pig who weighs about 100 pounds. Owners Amanda Lee and Rian Basilio have had him since he was four months old.

Piggie is extremely smart and social, and has adapted well to life at the beach. On his daily walks on the Strand, he's happy to greet children, pose for pictures, and respond to commands including "Sit," "Stay," "Shake Hands," and "Lie Down." (Of course, he will usually expect a treat in return.)

And when someone sees him for the first time, he often causes a stir. 

"He's almost caused some accidents from people [in the parking lot below the Strand] turning their necks trying to see him," said Basilio. "People will meet him and say, 'You have made my day!'"

A Pig With Personality

One of Piggie's defining traits is that he's smart - like, really smart. He knows how to open the fridge, how to open sliding doors, and how to get his favorite treats.

"He's smarter than a dog, in different ways," said Basilio. "You can see that he has a thought process behind what he does."

Lee described how she had given him a container with Cheerios in it that had to be tipped to open up to dispense a Cheerio. Piggie found a way to spin it around on the floor so that it just spilled out Cheerios.

"He figured out very quickly the path of least work for himself," she said with a grin.

Basilio noted that Piggie has about 30 distinct sounds, and he can tell what Piggie wants based on what sound he's making.

He's also incredibly social, and he gets sad if he doesn't get to hang out with people. 

"He has FOMO [Fear of Missing Out]," said Lee. "If we're inside and he hears people hanging out outside, he'll cry because he wants to be outside with them."

A Day In the Life Of Piggie Smalls

Piggie wakes up at about 9:00 a.m., and usually has a morning walk on the Strand.

When he's outside, Lee and Basilio put sunscreen on him because he can get sunburned, especially on the snout. (And like any kid going to the beach, he hates the sunscreen.)

On the Strand, he loves to meet people, munch on weeds, and generally soak up the sun. He's been trained not to react to dogs, so even if he encounters the most lively puppy, he'll likely just keep moving along. 

And yes, he poops outside, but the poop is in firmer pellets than dog poop, and is easier to clean up. (At home, he's house trained, but he does have a small box where he can "go" in an emergency.)

When it's time to leave the beach, he whines and cries (again, like a kid), and drags his feet slowly up the hill in protest.

Once at home, he'll spend most of the day napping, preferably in the sun. If he's in the mood, he might join Lee for some yoga out in the yard (Downward Hog, anyone?).

Piggie eats a meatless diet, mostly of special pig food pellets made from a variety of grains. He also eats dehydrated sweet potato treats, and plenty of fruits and vegetables, especially strawberries and carrots. 

Despite being willing to try almost anything, he's a surprisingly selective eater. "If you give him celery and peanut butter, he'll pull out the peanut butter and spit out the celery," said Basilio. "And he loves strawberries, but he'll spit out the green tops."

Some pigs of his size weigh much more than he does, but that limits their mobility, said Basilio. At a trim 100 pounds, Piggie is surprisingly agile and can run up the hill from the Strand to Highland Ave - and he can jump up three feet onto a bed.

"We walk every day, and walking up and down these hills keeps him in great shape," said Basilio.

At the end of the day, when it's time for him to go bed, he'll let them know that he wants to be tucked in. "First there's a grunt, then a grunt and a squeal," said Basilio. Basilio or Lee will walk him to his bed (a large dog bed), and he'll insist that one of them stays there as he roots around with his blankets until he gets comfortable. Then it's off to sleep, until it's time for another leisurely day as a pig at the beach. 

To follow Piggie Smalls' adventures, check out his Instagram page at Pig_Kahuna.

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