In the past year, Ellen Scudder has started wearing pig socks. Her cell phone has a pig cover. She received six pig ornaments for Christmas.
Scudder, a technician at the Loudoun County Animal Shelter, has become well known around Leesburg for her two potbellied pigs, Jimmy and Dean.
Scudder adopted them shortly after their mother, a stray, gave birth to seven piglets at the shelter on Jan. 16, 2002. The mother rolled on top of the piglets and crushed them all to death except for Jimmy and Dean.
Shelter staff gathered Thursday to wish a happy first birthday to the visiting pigs who have grown from cute 1-pound piglets to 150-pound porkers, maybe because they eat like pigs. They devoured an apple birthday cake, a special treat. Scudder normally feeds them special pig pellet food to keep their weight down.
Scudder usually encounters surprise when people find out that she has two pigs as pets: "They say, 'You have what?' "
When volunteer Anne Hooks first saw Scudder holding one of the piglets in her arms last January, "I said, 'That is the ugliest puppy I've ever seen.' "
The pigs are not the only creatures living with Scudder on Marshall Drive in Leesburg. She also has two ferrets, three dogs, eight cats and two children, Jessica, 16, and Jonathan, 11. The pigs live outdoors in a heated pig house.
"They're no more trouble than a dog," Scudder said. "They can be easily kept in the house, but most people don't want a 200-pound pig walking around."
The shelter occasionally has pigs for adoption, when owners find that their cute little piglet "grows and grows and grows," Scudder said. She lauds the pigs' intelligence and "human" emotions. They get angry and also very happy. During their birthday party, both pigs' tails wagged frantically as they sniffed and licked guests' shoes and rooted around in their party hats.