Column: The indomitable Mr. piggy

Published 1:59 am Thursday, December 14, 2006

By Staff
Last spring, I told you about Mr. Piggy and The Gang, the two pair of Canadian geese with mysteriously clipped wings that were hanging out in our creek. Mr. Piggy was the gang leader with an insatiable appetite for hand fed corn. His other passion was beating up on Chucky, the subordinate male of The Gang. Eventually Chucky and his gal disappeared, never to be seen again. I'd grown fond of The Gang and like to think they just had a belly full of Piggy's bullying and went their own way. More likely they filled some coyotes bellies, but since it's all speculation I'll think happy thoughts.
Nature's world is a hard place, especially when your wings are clipped, and Mr. Piggy and his gal have had their trials. I told you about the time a pair of wild geese decided they'd take over the joint. After taking a sound thrashing Piggy and his gal disappeared, presumably returning to wherever it is they get their wings trimmed. In a month or so the Wild Ones decided this place wasn't so great after all and moved on. A few weeks later Piggy and his gal returned.
My daughter often brings her Labrador retriever, Lucy, out for a swim in the creek. One of Piggy's delights is to sit a short ways off shore and taunt Lucy. Lucy long ago learned she couldn't out-swim them so she good naturedly puts up with it. One day my son brought out his Brittany, Riley. Riley isn't the lumbering, laid back type like Lucy; she's wired to 440 sizzling volts and faster than greased lightning. Riley was nosing around in the yard when Piggy and his gal boldly swam into position a short ways off shore and threw a few obscenities at her. They picked the wrong dog. Riley tore across the yard and with a gigantic leap sailed out into the creek, nearly landing on top of them. Horrified, Piggy wildly flailed his way downstream with Riley in hot pursuit. Piggy's gal was so motivated she actually took flight on stubby wings, flapped a ways upstream and fell exhausted into some tall grass. The water turns real shallow downstream and once Riley got her footing she was gaining on Piggy frightfully fast. A hundred yards or so downstream there's a big log jam that would cut Riley off. Piggy was part flying, part running across the water like a merganser on take off but it appeared the race to the log jam was going to be dead even. Just as Riley made the final lunge Piggy gained a burst of determination and flailed on over the logs, leaving Riley in a splashing somersault. That put the fear of the Dog Gods in them and Piggy and his gal disappeared for most of the summer.
A few months ago, however, they returned with two nearly full grown young'uns. I found it interesting that the youngster's wings were not clipped but they didn't know they had the means for flight. They dutifully shuffled around with ma and pa and even when spooked and making a panic run to the creek they just flailed their wings and ran on the ground like Piggy and his gal. True to form, Piggy was mean to the kids just like he was with Chucky. Their family undoubtedly started out bigger but predators abound here and few ducks or geese manage to save any of their brood. To be flightless and raise two kids that don't understand the concept of flight is an awesome feat.
A month or so ago disaster struck, Piggy's gal and one of the kids went missing. Most geese mate for life and loss of a mate is terribly distressing. Piggy seems to be taking it in stride, though. He quit pestering what I presume is his daughter (I can't imagine him being that nice to another male) and now they're inseparable buds. Where this odd arrangement will go next spring when the testosterone begins to flow will be interesting. One thing's for sure, though, the indomitable Mr. Piggy will figure something out. Carpe diem.