Students find companionship in unusual pets
By David Kramer, Staff Reporter
And on that farm she had a what? How about a Vietnamese Potbellied pig? Aside from the usual cat or dog, some families at Conestoga choose to devote their time and attention to more farm-worthy animals.
Sophomore Annie Medosch purchased her 135-pound oinker nearly two years ago as a rescue from Scranton, Pa. She wakes up early every morning to let her pig Bluto outside into her pen, and to make sure she has plenty of grain and hay.
Medosch also owns a dog, two cats and a pet rat, and thinks that Bluto is much smarter than her other animals.
“You can definitely sense the intelligence that [pigs] have compared to dogs and cats,” Medosch said. “Cats ignore us and dogs are hyper and clumsy.”
Having Bluto as a pet comes with many responsibilities. Bluto has to go to a special farm animal veterinarian, Dr. Wilbert. She eats anything and everything, and makes a mess if the kitchen cabinets are left open. Frequent baths and a clean pen are necessities. Medosch walks Bluto daily, which generates unusual reactions from other people.
People mainly say, “‘You don’t see that every day’,” Medosch said.
Bluto’s intelligence goes beyond her ability to open containers. She knows commands for sit, stay and shake. She also has a four-key piano and imitates what Medosch plays. Medosch recalls a time when her sister, junior Katie Medosch, fell off the porch in the backyard. Bluto, sensing that she was in pain, immediately went and sat with her.
“She’s very responsive to human emotions,” Annie Medosch said.
Other students keep their farm animals as a resource for food. When he was in eighth grade, senior Joey Marlino’s family decided to buy a chicken coop for their backyard. According to Marlino, the chickens do not require much work to keep. He lets them out of their coop in the morning and makes sure they are back inside by sundown. Free eggs are a benefit, but a dreaded 3 a.m. wake-up call from the roosters is a downside that takes some getting used to for the Marlino family and their neighbors.
“People are really surprised that we’re raising chickens on the Main Line,” Marlino said. “They get a kick out of it.”
The majority of the chickens are friendly and allow people to hold them. A few unlucky chickens have been taken by the neighborhood raccoons, foxes and the occasional chicken hawk that feast on the easy catch.
Sophomore Brenna Babiy recently bought four chickens online. Big Bertha, Ruby, Poppy and Piper were shipped from Fortsville, Pa. and arrived live in the mail. Now, only three weeks old, they stay in cardboard boxes under a heat lamp inside the house.
“I always look forward to coming home and seeing the chickens and taking care of them, or visiting them for a little bit,” Babiy said.
In March or April, Babiy expects the chickens to give eggs, which is the main reason she purchased them.
“We’ve gotten eggs from our friends who have had chickens and they definitely taste a lot better and more natural,” Babiy said. They are “just healthier and less processed.”
Senior Kya Kerner acquired her unusual pet in a more impulsive way. After a car struck and killed a doe, her fawn had nowhere to go. Kerner was able to give the deer, which she named Momee, a place to stay.
“We knew that she wouldn’t survive as a baby deer in the wilderness,” Kerner said. “We decided that we would raise her until she was ready to go out by herself.”
Kerner found that Momee’s behavior resembled the behavior of her dog. She loved to sit on Kerner’s lap, lick her face and run around the yard.
“It was weird how much like a dog she was,” Kerner said.
Kerner kept her deer inside their house until Momee was older and she was able to roam their fenced-in backyard. Momee stayed in their barn, eating cut up fruit, such as papayas and apples. Eventually, Momee grew to be too large to be kept as a family pet, and Kerner released her into the wild.
These animals are far from the usually seen pets, but their unique personalities still touch the hearts of their owners.
“Even after we let [Momee] go, she would keep coming back to get the fruit that we left on our lawn,” Kerner said.
David Kramer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.