In my work is a dog trainer, I’ve mostly dealt with two kinds of animals: Dogs and humans. At School For The Dogs, Kate and I have had the occasional cat student, and we both do training with our own felines. But the basics of behaviorism-based animal training apply to all species.
Like, for instance, pigs and ducks. Especially really cute pigs and ducks. I should know…
Last year I worked as an associate producer and animal wrangler on the Animal Planet show Too Cute. Among other duties, I wrote the mid-episode quizzes, corralled ducklings and chaperoned pitbull puppies on their first trip to a dog park.
On another shoot, we rented ducks from a petting zoo, and I was responsible for training them to walk in a straight line over a bridge, on the other side of which they’d meet some Mini Aussie puppies.
Here are the duckies and the puppies doing their cute thing in the final cut.
But the most fun part of the job was the trips to Spring Woods farm in Pennsylvania where I got to watch a litter of baby miniature piglets grow up.
While it was exciting to get to know a new species, the best part of my time at the pig breeders’ home was getting to hang out with the piglets’ best friend, Penny the spaniel. I guess I’m just a dog person at heart. The show includes a lot of scenes where Penny works hard to get the pigs to like her. (You can watch the full episode here — it also features baby hedgehogs and bunnies).
But none of these piglets in this litter bonded with Penny like fellow Spring Woods farm resident, Petey. Indeed, Petey and Penny had been practicing being “Too Cute” together for years. Here is a home video their owner made of them frolicking together at the farm years before the Animal Planet team arrived.