Oink: My Life with Mini-Pigs

( 13 )


An unforgettable, slapstick story of what happens when two tiny porkers move in on family life.

Paris Hilton carries one around like a Chihuahua, while Posh and Becks own a pair. The mini-pig, for reasons unknown, has become the latest celebrity accessory, but what’s it really like to invite little livestock into the living room?

Matt Whyman, a successful novelist, enjoys a quiet writer’s life in the English countryside … until his career wife,...

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Oink: My Life with Mini-Pigs

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An unforgettable, slapstick story of what happens when two tiny porkers move in on family life.

Paris Hilton carries one around like a Chihuahua, while Posh and Becks own a pair. The mini-pig, for reasons unknown, has become the latest celebrity accessory, but what’s it really like to invite little livestock into the living room?

Matt Whyman, a successful novelist, enjoys a quiet writer’s life in the English countryside … until his career wife, Emma, discovers the existence of a pig said to fit inside a handbag. She believes not one but two would be a perfect addition to the already diverse Whyman clan, which includes one wolf-like dog, a freaked-out feline, their wild bunch of ex-battery chickens as well as four challenging children. In reality, nobody could anticipate the trials and misadventures two riotous, raucous little piglets could bring. From turning Whyman’s office into a literal pigsty, stealing his spot on the family sofa to trashing his neighbour’s garden while drunk on fermented apples, Butch and Roxi swiftly establish themselves as “animals of mass distraction.”

Funny, touching and endlessly entertaining, Oink charts the battle of hearts, snouts and minds between a family man and two mini-pigs. Will Butch and Roxi ever settle down, or could their growing presence put the squeeze on Whyman in ways he never thought possible?

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble

If you can coax yourself past those two adorable critters on the cover, you will discover a beguilingly sweet and entertaining pet book, which has been described not inaccurately as a cross between Babe and Marley & Me. When author Matt Whyman brings two mini-pigs into household, it was not out of loneliness: His rural English household already includes six family members, a dog, a cat, and several chickens. However, there is no disputing that diminutive porkers Butch and Roxi added new dimensions of chaos to the Whyman home environment. In hilarious ways, Oink shows that in the pet world, size doesn't matter.

Publishers Weekly
Having a mini-pig as a pet may sound cute—indeed, they've become a hot commodity, owned by the likes of Paris Hilton and David Beckham—but when British writer Whyman (Goldstrike) picks up a pair for his family, the dirty truth is revealed.Butch and Roxi turn out to be destructive, loud, and just plain bad company.They place a strain on his marriage, relationships with his friends, coworkers, and kids. The family cat never quite gets over the pesky pigs, though Sesi, the family's Canadian shepherd, quickly establishes herself as the pigs' surrogate mom. Despite all the trouble they cause, Whyman's tale is rife with humor. Early on, Whyman peeks under his desk to discover "the clenched rear flanks of a little pink pig" as Roxi pees on his feet. After warming up to the porkers, Whyman and co. decide to try their hands at pig-breeding. However, he quickly realizes that two pigs is plenty, and abandons the venture. With so many characters carousing about the household, Whyman's raucous mini-pig memoir becomes an endearing meditation on the difficult, but ultimately worthwhile, relationships between people and the pets with which they share their home (or occasional pigsty). (Sept.)
From the Publisher
"What a fabulous, funny read! I enjoyed every page. Highly recommended for anyone with a pet, a partner, a family, a sense of humor. . . or even a mini-pig." —Sophie Kinsella
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451618280
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 9/20/2011
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 1,392,629
  • Product dimensions: 6.48 (w) x 9.52 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Matt Whyman is a distinctive contemporary voice in children’s and adult writing. After graduating from the University of East Anglia’s MA in Creative Writing, Matt’s career as a writer has taken him from Agony Uncle columns (Bliss magazine and AOL) and teen self-help guides to the cutting edge of both adult and children’s fiction. His critically acclaimed young adult novel Boy Kills Man was short-listed for several awards, including the 2004 Teenage Book Prize, and praised by Melvin Burgess: ‘Bold, chilling and beautifully written’. It is currently in development as a feature film with the producers of the cult film Kidulthood. Matt is married with four children (and an enormous dog) and lives in West Sussex, England.

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Read an Excerpt

An Escalation of Pets

Back home, sourcing a puppy became my pet project. While Emma prepared to return to work, I spent my free time scanning classified ads in pedigree dog magazines. Once I found what I’d been looking for and sealed the deal over the phone, it was just a question of counting down the days before we could collect our very own white Canadian shepherd puppy. I even settled on an appropriate name before I’d set eyes on her. With such a striking coat, I figured something to do with snow would be fitting. Feeling artistic, I turned to the Internet for an Eskimo term. Sesi struck me as fitting. The name wasn’t hard to find, even though I had assumed it would take some canny research. As it turned out, I picked it up from a Web site called Eskimo Names for Your White Canadian Shepherd.

Sure enough, just as the woman on the beach had promised, our new arrival was a darling. For the first few weeks at least. When our seal-like pup started growing sinew and teeth, and then rounding up the children, I figured she might be a handful. As Sesi became more like the wolf I had witnessed prowling the sands, only less submissive to her master, I began to worry that I might’ve bitten off more than I could chew. In the space of three months, we stopped being afraid of the dark and switched our fears to the dog.

One evening, all but barricaded upstairs with the wife and kids, I realized something had to be done. I took my responsibilities seriously, of course. Despite the half-jokes, I had no intention of having Sesi put down or rehoused. I was responsible for a difficult dog. It was down to me alone to do whatever it took to ensure she found her place within the family. What it took involved much of my life’s savings. At a visit to the local dog-training school I learned that what Sesi needed was a monthlong residential reprograming. The trainer, a man who kept a rottweiler named Satan as a kind of calling card, assured me he could bring out the best in her. Figuring my family also needed the break, I wrote the check and swore to myself I would never take on another animal for the rest of my days. Four weeks later, Sesi returned to me as a different dog. According to a parting comment from the trainer, one I swallowed bitterly, she now had the disposition of a labradoodle.

Despite Sesi’s newfound obedience, the experience left me in the doghouse with my family. I’d had my chance to choose a pet. Now it was their turn.

First came the kittens. We’d had some field mice in the loft, so it did make sense. I put forward just two reservations. Firstly, we now lived at the top of a quiet country lane. It was the kind that could see no vehicles whatsoever for an hour or more. Then, when a car did appear, it would hurtle over the crest as if completing the final leg of the World Rally Championship. In my view, a cat caught in the headlights would stand no chance. My second reason for being less than keen on cats took the shape of the dog.

On Sesi’s return from canine rehab, the trainer offered me some advice. Such was her size and spirit, he suggested, it would be safest for everyone if she had some space of her own. This wasn’t down to a fear that she would turn on the kids. It was evident to one and to all that she loved them to pieces. What concerned the trainer was the risk of her trampling them with affection. So, having fitted child gates on the doors into the kitchen and my office, Sesi now occupied the boot room in between. The arrangement worked wonders. The dog was still at the heart of the family. She just couldn’t dominate it. Nevertheless, I had no doubt that one glimpse of a feline mincing through the house would send her into a frenzy. Frankly, I just didn’t need the grief.

“If you get cats, it’ll be your responsibility,” I told Emma. “Should Sesi tear them to pieces, I am not liable.”

“I’ll have my lawyers contact yours,” she replied, before making the call to a friend whose pedigree puss had been knocked up by a stray.

In retrospect, I should have known that my wife would not stop there. Soon after the kittens arrived, without due warning or negotiation, Emma upped her game with the rabbits she had promised. One for each child, to be exact. By now, in terms of pets, she had come close to breaking me. I even helped in setting up the hutches in the yard and their runs out on the lawn. The kids loved all four bunnies equally. It was just that the kind of love they showed didn’t extend to feeding them regularly, cleaning out their cages, or closing them in securely so Miso couldn’t slaughter them. Quietly, I assumed a kind of support role to ensure they didn’t die.

Before long I began to hold out hope that the rabbits might perish prematurely. Unlike the dog and the chickens, they offered nothing in return. What with their daily demands, including ferrying them to and from the lawn for exercise, it felt more like I was caring for invalids. Emma would argue that the bunnies made the kids happy. As I saw things, their hutches took up much of the yard and the runs left us with little space to sit outside.

“Everywhere I look there are cages,” I complained. “It’s like Watership Down meets Guantánamo Bay out there.”

“We’d have more room without the chicken fencing,” Emma suggested. “Why don’t you get rid of it?”

“Because we still have a chicken,” I reminded her. “Maggie might be on her own, but it’s our duty to give her a good life.”

I did think about getting a couple more hens to keep Maggie company and also provide more eggs. What stopped me was the threat of a return visit from the fox. More importantly, I knew that it would prompt the animal equivalent of an arms race. If I could take on more chickens, Emma would regard it as justification for something else that looked adorable but was essentially incontinent. I only had to consider that worst-case scenario to pass on the prospect of additional poultry.

Besides, even Emma could see we were operating at capacity here.

Then the speeding vet reduced the feline contingent by one. It was undoubtedly a sad loss. For my wife, it was also an opportunity. With our number down, here was a chance for her to end the pet standoff once and for all. The stealth moves she went on to make in a bid to swell the animal count would have far-reaching consequences. Not just for me but for every member of the family. Even Emma herself was unprepared for what would become animals of mass distraction.

© 2011 Matt Whyman

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Table of Contents

A Prologue to the Pigs xi

Part one 1

1 On Children and Animals 3

2 A Real Man's Best Friend 7

3 An Escalation of Pets 12

4 Size Matters 16

5 A Crash Course in Pig Keeping 23

6 Pride and Preparation 32

7 Enter the Mini-pigs 41

8 In-House Training 53

9 How Much Trouble Can They Be? 62

10 More Than a Match 72

11 An Embarrassment to the Family 80

Part Two 93

12 A Drunk with a Digger 95

13 This Little Piggy Went to Market 104

14 Under Inspection 113

15 On Loss 122

16 Muscle and Sweat 131

17 The Jail Birds 139

18 A Bump in the Night 151

19 Cut to the Chase 164

20 Housebound 176

21 On Space 188

22 In the Wilderness 202

Part Three 215

23 Tools for the Task 217

24 A Man About a Mini-pig 234

25 Short Straws 248

26 Nature and Gravity 261

27 Third Time Lucky 272

28 One of Our Mini-pigs Is Missing 286

An Epilogue to the Pigs 305

Postscript 311

Acknowledgments 313

Authors Note 315

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 13 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 12 of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 26, 2011

    Highly recommend

    This book is definitely about mini pigs, but so much more. I found myself laughing out loud one minute and swollowing the lump in my throat the next. It was so well written. Entertaining. Honest and emotional. Obviously this author writes with a tremendous sense of humor and I enjoyed this story immensley. I totally recommend this book if you want a feel good read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 11, 2013

    Delightful book

    Loved this book. If you like animals and want a good funny read this ones for you.

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  • Posted July 26, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Every time I looked through the available memoirs on the library

    Every time I looked through the available memoirs on the library audio book catalogue this one intrigued me I enjoyed reading about Dewey: The Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World and Puppy Dairies: Raising a Dog Named Scout, so why not mini-pigs? I did not find his book quite as engrossing as the others, but somehow I just couldn't stop listening, so I guess I like it more than I thought!

    Whyman is a work at home author. He and his wife have four children, a dog, a cat and some chickens, but his wife has fallen in love with the idea of mini-pigs and they end up owning a pair. Whyman gets a home all read for them outside only to find that his family intends to have he pigs live in he house. The pigs make tons of noise whenever he gets a phone call, use the area behind the TV as their potty, chew up buttons on he remote and wires and steal Whyman's seat on the couch. While the pigs, who eventually get a home outside, cause quite a few headaches, it turns out that they complete the family. I can't see ever wanting to own them myself, but I am sure their cuteness has gotten the quite a few owners. I was surprised about how many embarrassing events the author was willing to document in his book. I think anyone contemplating owning a new pet should read an account of what ownership was like for someone else.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 4, 2012

    How many pgs?

    How many pages are there? Plz, some one answer asap!!!!!!!!

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 6, 2012

    Loved this book so much....

    I gave it as a Christmas gift to several friends. When I read it, my husband was often asking me if I was okay - because he could hear me laughing hysterically. Very funny book - but I do NOT want a mini-pig!!!!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 22, 2012

    I love this book

    By chloe this book is abousalutly amazing i am getting a mini pig

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    Posted May 28, 2012

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    Posted October 13, 2011

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    Posted September 22, 2011

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    Posted October 30, 2011

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    Posted April 3, 2012

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    Posted November 19, 2011

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