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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Funny Farm's Reggie DiNolfi

Funny Farms Reggie DiNolfi
Born Feb 26 , 1993, Died Nov. 05, 2007

     My name is Rebecca DiNolfi and I was the caregiver and pet partner of one of the most famous Potbellied pigs in the U.S.
     Funny Farms Reggie,( Reggie for short) was a therapy pet partner of mine for over 14 years. She was my constant companion and Guardian Angel who was given to me by my x-husband after I had suffered 3 major heart attacks in 1991 and 1992 and was unable to function as a normal human being.
     One day when I was shopping with my X- husband I saw potbellied pigs in a pet shop and fell in love with them.
      From that encounter I determined that this animal was the pet for me. I acquired a book on potbellied pigs and read it from cover to cover more than once.
     Through this book I found out that the potbellied pig was one of the most intelligent animals on earth. They are ranked 3rd in intelligence running just behind Whales and Dolphins. They are also one of the cleanest animals and do not have any body odor or get fleas.
After making the final decision that this is the pet I wanted and my X-husband agreed that I could have one the search was on for a reputable breeder. After about a month I was able to find a breeder not far from us and the rest is history.

     I brought Reggie home when she was only 7 weeks old and from that day forward we were constant companions. I was able to go off almost all my heart medications within six weeks after she came home to me because I was able to forget about myself and concentrate on her. It was just like having a new born baby to care for only she could run like the wind and got into everything. Pigs are very curious animals as I was to find out very fast.

   After having a potbellied pig as a pet for a while I realized that they had a very human nature. They cry real tears when hurt, they pout when mad and they give you time out. They are the most human of any animal I have ever been around.
Along with Reggie's adoption I received a membership for a Potbellied pig club in our area. Reggie and I became very active with our club, The Delaware Valley Potbellied Pig Association. Our club was very active in the communities around the tri state area of Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. We were always doing public appearances as well as Animal Assisted Therapy for nursing homes and Orphanages. We did shows for the patients and we got a lot of joy out of what we were doing together. It was amazing to see the smiles on the people's faces when we walked into a room with a pig on a leash wearing a hat and a costume for whatever occasion it might be at that particular time.
     After that Reggie and I got a call to be a regular visitor at Pine Run Nursing home in Doyelstown, PA where we started our Pet Therapy career together.

It was amazing to see how the patients reacted to a pig. Two of the ladies who were friends saved their toast  from breakfast to give her a treat ,and used to argue about who Reggie loved best. Then there were the two women who lived together in the same room for over three years and had never spoken a word to each other until the day I brought Reggie into their room to visit. The next month when we arrived to do our show one of the nurses told me how amazing it was that they hadn't stopped talking about Reggie and how cute she was.  From that time on we appeared at many nursing homes , adult day care centers, hospitals, special needs schools and anywhere we were need.

  The Woods School was a special in needs school for children and adults that we visited regularly. We were assigned to visit 17 classrooms on the Saturdays we were there. There was a patient in one of the rooms that was blind and was in a wheel chair who just loved pigs. When he would get depressed the staff would make oinking sounds to snap him out of it and he would laugh until he cried. The first day I brought Reggie to his room she went right up to him and oinked at him while rubbing her little snout on his foot. He was so excited about her that he would cheer up every time they told him that she was coming to visit him.
     Then there was the man named Joe that never opened his eyes inside the building. The first visit we did Reggie would not leave the room until she got his attention by pushing on his foot. We had to leave and I could not get her to come. She kept pushing on his foot until he finally looked down and opened his eyes to stare right in the face of this magical pig and laugh. These were just a small section of the people we touched with the work we did together.
     Our life together has been amazing   

     Shortly after that time we got another pig who was a rescue pig.

Reggie was 1 1/2 when Pepper came to live with us. We quickly intergraded her into the therapy scene and she loved going along to see the patients. I could only take Pepper when my X husband could come along. 2 pigs were way too much for me to handle alone so Reggie was the major star of the show. Pepper did not do many tricks because Reggie would not let her learn any..

     We were getting used to having  special pets and showing them off to the public. everywhere we went and everything we did revolved around our pigs and their special talent to make people happy.
     In 1995 we joined the Delta Society in Renton, WA. and became registered Animal Assisted Therapy Pet Partners. Reggie now had credentials. From that Reggie was honored to be one of 7 animals that were chosen by Life Magazine as a hero for all the therapy work we were doing all over the Delaware Valley. She was in May 1997 Hero edition.

       As time went on we became involved in doing Kiss-A -pig contests for schools and businesses to help earn money for charities. and in just one year Reggie earned over $10,000.00 for charity kissing people. She loved to snooty kiss.. 
   While we were still doing therapy work we were also doing the Fair circuit in the summer time. That was a fun time we all had with our pigs. We even took over one entire motel with our pigs in NJ every year we went to Sussex Co Fair. 

As a group we did many things for the public like the Christmas we put on a fashion show for the opening of the show The State Fair
this was in the Meriam Theater in Philadelphia PA. The mayor, His Honor Ed Rendell was one of our Judges. 
It was a wonderful time and got me in place for the next step in my life as a piggy Mom.
     Because of this connection I made with the mayor who is now our Governor in PA I became what is known as the zoning Guru. I am now the top zoning consultant in the world for the companion potbellied pig. Because our pets are pigs they are not allowed to be in a lot of municipalities' as pets so we fight ever day to change the laws that were put on the books forbidding us to have them in our homes. 

 Well as you can see I could go on and on about the potbellied pig as a pet and what we have accomplished with them by our sides but that is for another day and the book I am writing about my life with Reggie and my other piggies. Reggie has passed into spirit but she left a legacy unrivaled by most humans I have known.

I now have a new little piggy named Little Willow White Feather and we are still doing educational shows for children but nothing at all like Reggie and I did. I am semi retired mainly because I'm tired and kind of burnt out. I continue to fight for potbellied pigs to be excepted as pets . Hopefully someday this fight will be won but until then Im here to see that we can still enjoy the special companionship of one of the most delightful miss understood animals on this planet the amazing PIG.  

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