Albie, a rescued Juliana pig named after Hogwarts headmaster Albus Dumbledore, lives a magical life.
Rather than casting spells at the school of witchcraft and wizardry, Albie is content to play in the yard with his best friend, a black cat named Sirius, and cuddle with owner Alden Mills.
A Casa Linda neighbor, Mills works as a tattoo artist at Suffer City. After rescuing Albie from a breeder near Houston, Mills spent the car ride home brainstorming possible names. The Harry Potter fan considered naming him Draco or another character from the series, but when she suggested Albie, the pig seemed to nod his agreement.
At 13 weeks, Albie was more than twice the age of most adopted pigs, and Mills worried that he was too old to socialize. When she first brought him home, he didn’t want to be touched. But the first-time pig owner diligently slept on the floor with Albie until he fell asleep.
“A lot of times you’ll get a pig that’s disinterested in you, but [my boyfriend and I] worked day and night to get him to trust us,” Mills says. “I couldn’t stand the thought of him getting older and not knowing love.”
Now, Albie expects a spot on the bed and trails Mills around the house like a puppy. The pig barks at the mail carrier and bellies up for tummy rubs. He also comforts Mills’ dogs when they get spooked by loud noises.
“Pigs don’t realize [their size] and can trample over everybody, but Albie is so gentle and good,” Mills says. “I didn’t know he’d be the easiest pet I’d ever have. I think I raised a princess.”
But Albie can be naughty and mischievous. One day, when Mills was scooping the litter box, Albie discovered a scent that drove him mad. He barreled behind Mills, grabbed the bag and ran through the house, slinging litter and cat poop everywhere. Instead of acting guilty, Albie licked his lips in delight.
Despite the occasional mishap, Mills says Albie is even easier to care for than her six dogs and four cats. The trick is to keep him entertained. A bored pig is a bad pig, she says. So, the owner is working with Albie on several enrichment activities that he’ll need to demonstrate to register as a therapy pig. He is practicing ringing a bell, walking through a hoop and taking treats gently instead of greedily snatching them.
The 1-year-old pig eats two salads a day and will weigh up to 80 pounds when fully grown.
“People get pigs because on Instagram, it’s cute, it’s trendy, it’s popular,” Mills says. “But pigs grow up, and the size is an issue. They are suddenly unwanted and disposable. People say, ‘It didn’t stay 35 pounds. I don’t want it anymore.’”
Mills dreams of one day opening a sanctuary for unwanted pigs and senior dogs.
“I battle with depression, and these animals saved me,” she says. “It’s the most unconditional love.”
Click to sign up for the Advocate's weekly news digest and be the first to know what’s happening in Lakewood/East Dallas.