Willie the pig settles in and begins rooting around in the dirt and straw set up for her by her new owners, Kristie and James Michaelis of Ogden.
(Photo: Mary Willie, The Des Moines Register)
OGDEN, Iowa -- Iowa's most publicized pig would need to hoof her way some 50 miles across the countryside before once again bedeviling the Des Moines neighborhood where she spent a rambunctious, carefree summer.
Willie the rogue potbellied pig on Thursday settled into her new rural home: a cozy shed with a bed of straw and cedar shavings and its own fenced pen on a quiet acreage outside Ogden. Eventually she may end up with her own stall in the 1920 barn that towers nearby.
Willie had roamed free in Des Moines since June.
She eluded capture for weeks but finally was nabbed earlier this month by Des Moines Animal Control in a cage baited with a bag of marshmallows.
"You know, it's amazing," said Judy Hand, the barn coordinator for the Animal Rescue League who chauffeured Willie to her new home. "I've had market hogs - I don't know, maybe four market hogs that end up getting spayed or neutered, and they get adopted."
The ARL allowed a five-day window for Willie's previous owner to step forward and claim her. Nobody did, so she was spayed and put up for adoption.
Willie's new proud parents are James and Kristie Michaelis and their 15-year-old son, Dakota, who moved from Arizona last year and purchased their Boone County acreage in July.
Kristie, 41, took her pet kitten, Snooki, to the ARL to be spayed and while there inquired about Willie. Was the cute pig still available to adopt? Kristie was in luck and was approved for the adoption.
It took but several minutes Thursday for Willie to be coaxed from the carrying crate. She rooted in the dirt and munched a bowl of corn mash and apples.
Her new family is building a ramp so that Willie can trot into the house, where the kitchen decor is dominated by pig paraphernalia.
"She's kind of snarky," Hand said of Willie's personality after her summer at large. "She needs some humanization" and is "still kind of on the wild side."
The Michaelises know what they're getting into: They're veteran potbellied pig owners who raised a few of the beasts for 20 years in the desert north of Phoenix.
Dakota, meanwhile, has contemplated renaming Willie in honor of the pig's favorite food: "Mallow." Or maybe "Mellow" if the oinker calms down in the fresh farm air.
"Eventually my goal is to get her on a harness where I can walk her on a leash, which is what I did with my old one, too," Kristie said.
Kyle Munson, The Des Moines Register