Smart as a Pig

digital illustrationIt’s good that fiction has not entirely neglected the intelligence of the porcine race. There are such admirable figures as the marvelous Wilbur, saved in E. B. White’s superb story by that great media campaign waged by the arachnid heroine of ‘Charlotte’s Web‘; the stalwart Babe of Dick King-Smith’s ‘The Sheep-Pig‘, famous for being Farmer Hoggett’s eventual go-to pig for sheep herding and assorted acts of clever heroism; there’s the not so brilliant but ever so endearing Porky Pig, he of the stammering charm and accidental accomplishments. There are Snowball and Napoleon, who use their canny piggy wits in a dystopian world to prove that some pigs are more equal than others, a less sweet and engaging use of porcine wit and intelligence than some might like, but they are still outnumbered in the literary pen by Miss Potter’s little creature Pigling Bland and his far less bland but equally stimulating porker, Mr. Wodehouse’s Empress of Blandings.

All of these, of course owe a certain debt to their famous forebears (or forepigs) who were Little in size and Three in number. The Three Little Pigs, not all of them geniuses, I grant you, manage eventually to outwit the beastly Wolf. They’re so good at it, in fact, that their cleverness has continued to be immortalized for ages since their first appearance and they star in everything from many classic-styled re-tellings to a wide range of variants like Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith’s delightful ‘True Story‘ and even the Ninjas in Corey Rosen Schwartz’s version.

And still there are so many real, live pigs with even more impressive mental acuity than all of those little pretend ones put together; just ask any pig person (farmer or veterinarian or person with a companion animal). Ask Celi over at thekitchensgarden about Sheila’s exploits and the adventures and discoveries of the plonkers (the half-grown young pigs); go over there and Search her site for Sheila posts, and you too will grow wiser.

I hear a lot of people praising horses for being as intelligent as dogs and dogs, then, as smart as apes; apes, in their turn, for being as smart as their cousin humans—but I would be pretty flattered, myself, if anyone found me as clever as a pig.

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