Pigs are in the spotlight again at county fairs around the nation, and that means agonizing over the annual question: Do pigs really want to race around a short track while we look on and laugh?
I think we’re asking the wrong question. I know for a fact that pigs don’t mind running a short distance. I met a huge mastiff in the Smoky Mountains that lay motionless on a porch after he picked a fight with the wild pigs in the forest at the end of his master’s property. One of them gored him with a tusk that all but killed him, and all four chased him till he was out of the woods.
There were actually three piggies, but I said four because I know some readers will think I’m making this story up, which I’m not. The dog is now dead. His master continues painting pictures at his famous studio for thousands of tourists.
But don’t be distracted by the dog’s miserable fate. The point is that pigs are happy to run if they have good reason.
I couldn’t wait till the next year’s piggy race at the Warren County Fair after watching the one in 1990. It was hilarious. It was action to the hilt, and I observed what I considered good sportsmanship in all the contestants.
They ran well, each one was excited beyond belief to receive an Oreo cookie at the finish line, and none of them complained about being robbed of first place.
So I naturally looked forward to the next year’s six-second races. Then came the news: Animal welfare activists were making the races difficult for the farmer who brought the piggies. I believe the implication was that pigs don’t like to race like that. Or that it’s bad for pigs.
If you check a piggy’s pulse before a race and compare it to his pulse afterward, you will find something troubling — an unhealthy rate and pressure. If you measure a piggy’s emotion before and after, you’ll get another convincing indicator.
Other indicators can be interpreted to prove that racing for six seconds is unkind and unfair to pigs.
Pigs run. They don’t like to run far, but they don’t mind running short distances to get what they want. If, from time to time, they are incentivized to run farther than what some protectorates believe humane, give the piggies another cookie or another dog to gore, another snake or chipmunk to crunch, and I promise you they’ll be happy.
Real, real happy.
Max T. Russell writes for the international business intelligence community. You can contact him via his website, maxtrussell.com.