If pigs could fly, they’d call him Super-Ham.
Ludwig is a 240-pound pot-bellied pig being credited for saving his Canadian owners’ bacon by scaring off an intruder who broke into their rowhouse in the British Midlands in the wee hours of New Year’s Eve.
The hog was already well known in the small English city of Derby, delighting residents as owners Michael Maughan and Liane Scholz trotted him around town on a leash, dressed in a flamboyant red plaid cape.
“He stopped traffic here, just like he did in Canada,” said Maughan, a former gold miner, who moved to England from Kirkland Lake, Ont., in October, to join his wife, who is substitute teaching special needs students in South London.
But Ludwig’s star status reached stratospheric heights after he valiantly grunted and snorted and frightened away a thief who came in the night to rob the home of the transplanted Canadians.
It was still dark out when Maughan came down the stairs of his rowhouse around 6:30 a.m. Dec. 31 to find the door ajar and Ludwig wide awake. Something was amiss.
“I left the door unlocked and I think someone came in, tried to grab my wife’s purse, and I think he made a growl because he noticed someone in the room. That’s, as far as I can tell, what happened,” said Maughan.
“They couldn’t have been in there that long because it wasn’t very cold in the room and the door was open, and they ran away and they didn’t even shut the door behind them.”
Not your average home guardian, Ludwig has made headlines across Europe as the hog hero who sends burglars squealing with his “Rottweiler-like rumble,” as one news agency put it. Other British news papers hailed him as a “hero ham,” and praised his “sty-hard ways.”
Scholz took to Twitter to share her amazement at all the attention their porky pet is receiving.
“The way this story has exploded is delightfully mad,” she tweeted.
Maughan says the ordeal was a little bit less exciting than the English press is making out to be.
“He’s being painted as a vicious creature when he’s actually quite a sweet animal,” he told the Toronto Star by phone from England Saturday. “He didn’t exactly bare his tusks and charge, I don’t think. I think he got absolutely, ‘Arrgh,’ and they just ran for it.”
Derbyshire Constabulary, the local police service, would not comment on the specifics of the case but confirmed the burglary took place.
Maughan said Scholz’s purse was stolen that morning. The purse was later ditched, minus the credit card.
Neighbours, found and returned the purse, after recognizing Ludwig in a photograph inside the bag.
“It wasn’t a terrifying episode at all. It was a wonderful example of the good community that lives here in Derby,” said Maughan.
Ludwig, like Maughan and Scholz, is adjusting well to his new life in England, having just crossed the Atlantic at the end of October.
Though getting him here wasn’t so easy.
The couple appealed to a Pet Relocate, a company that helps owners to transport pets “door-to-door, anywhere in the world,” according to their website.
Ludwig was the first pot-bellied pig the company had relocated from Canada to England as a pet, said Kyle Freeman, managing director of Pet Relocate, the agency that helped the couple transport the pig overseas.
“He’s not a stereotypical domestic animal like a dog or a cat, but at the same time he’s not typical farm animal, though he is a farm animal by definition,” said Freeman. “He falls between the cracks.”
After navigating the couple through a web of bureaucratic red tape, Freeman secured Ludwig a spot on a trans-Atlantic commercial airliner.
“He’s very friendly, emotional, he’s like a child,” said Freeman, who met Ludwig, and watched him interact with his owners.
“He’s so used to being a family member he doesn’t realize he’s a pig.”
Maughan and Freeman both attested to Ludwig’s human-like behaviour.
According to Maughan, when Ludwig and Scholz were reunited after two months of separation, the pig cried real tears of joy.
She put her face up to his and said, “‘Ludwig, Ludwig, I’m home now.’ And he woke up and he couldn’t believe it — he thought he was still dreaming and then when he realized she was actually home, he started crying,” said Maughan.
Owning Ludwig, now 3 years old, has certainly changed the couple’s life, said Maughan.
“We stopped eating pork a long time ago. We stopped eating pork when he was little because … he would come into the kitchen and he would wonder what that smell was, and then we started to feel kind of bad. And then we also found out about how pigs are intelligent and things like that.”
- With files from Ethan Lou