The Good Good Pig: The Extraordinary Life of Christopher Hogwood
“Christopher Hogwood came home on my lap in a shoebox. He was a creature who would prove in many ways to be more human than I am.”
–from The Good Good Pig
A naturalist who spent months at a time living on her own among wild creatures in remote jungles, Sy Montgomery had always felt more comfortable with animals than with people. So she gladly opened her heart to a sick piglet who had been crowded away from nourishing meals by his stronger siblings. Yet Sy had no inkling that this piglet, later named Christopher Hogwood, would not only survive but flourish–and she soon found herself engaged with her small-town community in ways she had never dreamed possible. Unexpectedly, Christopher provided this peripatetic traveler with something she had sought all her life: an anchor (eventually weighing 750 pounds) to family and home.
The Good Good Pig celebrates Christopher Hogwood in all his glory, from his inauspicious infancy to hog heaven in rural New Hampshire, where his boundless zest for life and his large, loving heart made him absolute monarch over a (mostly) peaceable kingdom. At first, his domain included only Sy’s cosseted hens and her beautiful border collie, Tess. Then the neighbors began fetching Christopher home from his unauthorized jaunts, the little girls next door started giving him warm, soapy baths, and the villagers brought him delicious leftovers. His intelligence and fame increased along with his girth. He was featured in USA Today and on several National Public Radio environmental programs. On election day, some voters even wrote in Christopher’s name on their ballots.
But as this enchanting book describes, Christopher Hogwood’s influence extended far beyond celebrity; for he was, as a friend said, a great big Buddha master. Sy reveals what she and others learned from this generous soul who just so happened to be a pig–lessons about self-acceptance, the meaning of family, the value of community, and the pleasures of the sweet green Earth. The Good Good Pig provides proof that with love, almost anything is possible.
From the Hardcover edition.
local experience with chickens was largely confined to the soup pot. But he was soon to expand his knowledge. Because Gretchen had raised these hens from chicks, and Howard and I had visited them almost daily during their upbringing, they didn’t just know us; they were our biggest fans. When the Ladies saw us coming, they would race toward us, their wings held slightly open, and mob us as if we were the Beatles. Howard’s dad really got a kick out of it. The Ladies believed we were bringing them
felt the only thing to do was to move out. Unfortunately, her options were limited. She didn’t have a whole lot of money. Very few rental units would accept dogs—and she desperately wanted their two sixty-pound dogs, Reba and Louie, to live with her at least part of the time, as well as her cat, Tigger. Reba was a three-year-old black lab-setter mix, and Louie was a four-year-old white shepherd-lab mix. When she heard about our place, she was excited—and nervous. She didn’t want to blow it.
house than we did from ours, she fretted about a fox attack. So she had set up the baby monitor she used when their youngest grandchildren visited, putting the transmitter by the Chicken Chalet and the receiver by her kitchen. Howard saw the wisdom of the device and bought one of our own. From that point on, with the receiver in my office, I wrote my books and articles to an edifying fugue of clucks, cackles, and grunts. “What do you suppose they are saying?” I would ask Howard at lunch. “Maybe
them in the pocket of my father’s uniform, and kiss him goodnight. FINDING CHRISTOPHER ALIVE THAT MORNING REMINDED ME OF the comforting fact that the worst thing doesn’t always happen. Standing shakily, it was clear he was not a healthy pig. He was very skinny. His tail didn’t curl, but drooped like a dried-up umbilical cord. But he was stronger. He didn’t even seem lonely. Normally, wild pigs are gregarious creatures, living in groups called sounders of about twenty animals (though sometimes
expedition, though, I’d made a far more momentous trip: one to Virginia, to see my mother. On and off for the previous two years, I’d traveled with Gary to Cambodia, Thailand, and Laos in search of a mysterious golden bear unknown to science—which we found, among many other adventures. I dedicated the resulting book to my mother, and we celebrated at a local bookstore by a reading and signing attended by all her friends. At that moment, I knew that whatever else had happened between us, she was