A Dog – honestly, what’s it for? What use is that lump of lovely hungry fur sat behind me as I write, unquestioningly loyal and ‘loving’, adoring and fun/frustrating in equal measure? Principally it’s a (relatively) low maintenance companion or ‘pet’, kept these several millennia by human beings to keep company and fulfil several extra needs that the man might have. Dogs can hunt, they can protect, they can herd other animals, and they can act as an alarm system. They can be trained as assistants to blind, deaf and less able people, and even go into hospitals to spread a little happiness. Dogs can sniff truffles, drugs, explosives and cancers. Perceptive and biddable, the perfect all-rounder? Considering my dog, he costs me his food and the occasional injection and one or two pieces of canine paraphernalia (leads, bowls, ‘toys’, blankets, basket and treats), and in return he’s better than a door bell or car alarm, and has got a set of gnashers than would scare most people should they cross him or threaten me – he’s also a valuable alternative to chemical therapy for my depressive metabolism. Dogs smell when wet, like rolling in fox and cat poo, eat all manner of disgusting rubbish, and drop hair everywhere they can around the house.
Is your pig a good alternative? A great one even? Not sure if I’m honest. An alternative suggests a replacement, ‘available as another possibility’. So can a pig replace a dog? I wouldn’t let it into the house, their intelligence and strength / size makes them petty destructive creatures. The smell you can get used to, though I’d probably tolerate a dry dog better. They, like a dog, eat anything (but probably more of it), have a magnificent sense of smell, and are totally trainable – in fact they are probably more intelligent than a dog, some studies have shown that the pig has an intelligence equivalent to that of a three year old human being! They tend to grow bigger (obviously this depends on breed) than most dogs, certainly with much greater front-end strength and more powerful jaws. They’ve got lousy eyesight and aren’t especially mobile (so would be less demanding of exercise than a dog). They’ll probably live longer than a dog too, and where there are a lot of breeds of pig, there is far greater variety in the doggie world.
If you want an alternative to a dog that doesn’t need much exercise, and you’ve got a garden that you don’t mind being grubbed up, and you don’t mind carrying a slight whiff around with you, then a pig is a great alternative: a good companion, trainable, entertaining and fun to be around.
A Cat – hmmm, I have to confess a strong dog-bias here, so haven’t much positive to say about cats, but what they are very good at is owning a household, looking graceful, and keeping people with limited mobility happy. They are good company when they fancy it, but tend to look down on you in the same way as a dog looks up to you unreservedly. Stroking them makes you feel calm and comforted and they’ll keep your lap warm. A cat is good at catching vermin (and songbirds too, which is a bit of a downside), but has nasty toilet habits. Cats aren’t so easy to train (because mostly they can’t see the point). They come and go as they please, can use a flap, and are less costly to feed than a dog. Your pigs will eat any vermin stupid enough to offer themselves up in their pen, but aren’t gifted hunters or athletes. Pigs don’t jump, aren’t comforting to stroke, and aren’t really a gentle companion around the house – but then they haven’t got sharp claws either.
A pig really isn’t any kind of alternative to a cat, let alone a great one! For a start they are more easily house trained and don’t carry fleas that like the taste of human beings. They are also a heck of a lot bigger than domestic cats – but then they won’t bring small animals and birds into your house either (they’ll have eaten them first!). Unlike your cat, the pig will always regard you as an equal, and be a lot more ‘needy’ of your attention.